There’s something quite depressing about enemies making up. Life
would just be too nice if we all liked each other - and there’s nothing
worse than nice.
The other thing about enemies becoming friends is that they often form a
formidable alliance - bad news for any rival. There’s nothing like an
enemy for knowing your weaknesses and your strengths.
So you can imagine the nail biting that could be going on at the news
that Carlton and Granada are becoming chummy. The two companies now
share a common interest - British Digital Broadcasting, the winner of
the digital terrestrial TV licences in which they have a 50/50 stake.
Even the sales directors, Martin Bowley and Mick Desmond, seem to be
getting on a little bit better these days. Bad news for the
The irony is that this digital terrestrial malarkey is yet another
warning signal that the days of ITV’s omnipotence are numbered, and now
the ITV companies must act together to reinforce the ITV brand.
But with bets on as to when the ITV ownership will contract to two
owners, United News and Media is the one always fingered for being out
in the cold. With Carlton and Granada getting smoochy, it’s perhaps no
surprise that last week United moved to shore up its ITV credentials by
snapping up HTV, one of the few remaining independent ITV companies.
We’ve already heard about ITV’s promises to bring in a marketing
director and a strong, independent chief executive to run the Network
Centre (and let’s hope that the very first thing to go under the new
regime are those awful on-screen ads from M&C Saatchi).
But these will prove to be empty promises unless the trio can truly
co-operate for the good of ITV, digital or no digital. Let’s not get
carried away by the excitement of the new technology. ITV should remain
omnipotent for many years to come, and Carlton’s and Granada’s first
allegiance should be to the ITV brand.