Monday’s news that Carlton Communications and Granada Media are poised to combine marketing and programming activities came as music to the ears of investors, the duo's shares on the London Stock Exchange respectively rising 9% to £1.4075 ($2.15; €2.20), and 12% to £0.84.

The two ITV franchisees between them control Britain's largest commercial network and plan to launch what they call a “virtual enterprise” in the autumn. This substitutes (in the short term at least*) for the fullscale merger planned by the duo earlier this year but abandoned after legal advice it would fall foul of competition regulators [WAMN: 19-Aug--02].

Together the pair own twelve of the nation’s fifteen ITV franchises [regional and weekday/weekend] and are currently rumoured to be in acquisition talks with Scottish Media Group, which owns two of the remaining licences – Grampian and Scottish TV [WAMN:23-Jul -02].

*Pending the enactment of the government's Communications Bill later this year.

Data sourced from: BBC Online Business News (UK); additional content by WARC staff