UK television network ITV's proposed acquisition of breakfast broadcaster GMTV could be referred to the Competition Commission if the Institute of Practitioners of Advertising gets its way.

The IPA is concerned that should ITV choose to merge the GMTV sales team with its own operation, it could use this to hike the prices of morning airtime.

ITV currently has a 50% stake in GMTV, while Disney owns 25%. The remaining 25% stake is being purchased by ITV from regional broadcaster Scottish Media Group for £31 million ($56.5m; €46.9m) [WAMN: 11-May-04].

Although GMTV plays a minor role in the UK advertising market with an ad revenue of just 2%, it is an important cost-reducer for agencies, enabling them to strike better deals with ITV.

IPA media futures group chairman, Jim Marshall, expressed his concerns over the deal: "If ITV gets hold of it [GMTV], we're worried they'll put the prices up so we want the sales points to remain separate."

Marshall has now requested the Office of Fair Trading to ensure ITV keeps the GMTV sales operation separate, before commending the deal to the Competition Commission.

Data sourced from: BrandRepublic (UK); additional content by WARC staff