A denizen of the City of London is reportedly talking-up the remote possibility of a merger between ITV - Britain's largest commercial TV company - and its smallest rival, the Bertelsmann/RTL Group-owned Five.

In the opinion of Paul Richards, an analyst at investment bank Numis Securities, such a merger "does make sense". But whatever his reasons for this curious belief, they are unlikely to be shared by many others in the media and financial industries.

Richards, however, concedes that such a union would greatly hinder ITV's current attempts to escape from the contract rights renewal mechanism, imposed by competition regulators as a condition for the merger that created ITV in February 2004. The mechanism governs airtime sales negotiations between the broadcaster and media agencies.

While ITV is unlikely to see any merit in such a merger, it might well suit Five, whose parent RTL held unfruitful talks two years ago with Channel 4 - and has since discussed strategic partnerships with both BSkyB and Flextech.

Perhaps the story, which emanated from Thursday's Media Guardian, owes more to desperation on a slack news day than to the real world. [Don't] watch this space!

Data sourced from MediaGuardian.co.uk; additional content by WARC staff