ANALYSIS: MEDIA TRACK - A combined Carlton and UNM would have a massive impact on the terrain of ITV

The ITV Network is about to take a further step towards what many see as its inevitable consolidation, with Carlton Communications and United News & Media (UNM) moving towards sealing a pounds 7.8 billion merger deal.

The ITV Network is about to take a further step towards what many

see as its inevitable consolidation, with Carlton Communications and

United News & Media (UNM) moving towards sealing a pounds 7.8 billion

merger deal.



The new group would become the largest commercial broadcaster in the

country and by far the largest player in the ITV Network.



Carlton owns the ITV franchises for London weekday television (Carlton

Television), Central Television, West Country Television, and also has a

20 per cent stake in the South-East franchise Meridian Broadcasting.



UNM owns the remainder of Meridian, Anglia Television, HTV and has a 29

per cent stake in Channel 5.



The news has got rival ITV company Granada worried, fuelling reports

that it too may bid for UNM.



According to the latest figures from the Independent Television

Commission, for the 12 months up to September 1999, the ITV Network took

a total share of TV viewing, including cable and satellite channels, of

31.3 per cent.



Of this, franchises owned by Carlton and UNM accounted for 14.9 per

cent.



Fortunately, the current competition restrictions prohibit any one group

taking more the 15 per cent of total UK viewing.



Meanwhile Granada, with its LWT, Tyne Tees, Yorkshire and Granada

franchises, has a total viewing share of 10.7 per cent - just over one

third of the ITV Network’s total share of viewing.



If Granada attempted a counter-bid, UNM would be its most likely target

as the combination of the two would create a smaller share of viewing

than a similar merger between Granada and Carlton.



A Granada/UNM share of total UK viewing would be around 17.3 per cent

(about 55.3 per cent of viewing to the ITV Network) which would be in

breach of the current regulations.



However, it is likely most major UK broadcasting companies will lobby

the Office of Fair Trading to remove these restrictions.



MediaTel’s database is available at www.mediatel.co.uk. For more

information contact 0207-439 7575 or e-mail info@mediatel.co.uk.



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