LONDON (Brand Republic) - United News & Media is facing demands from Carlton Communications for improved terms to the proposed merger between the two, as the stipulation that United must now sell its prize ITV franchise, Meridian, make a deal seem less attractive.
The calls follow the regulatory go-ahead, given by the government on Friday, for a merger between Carlton and United or with rival Granada.
United is expected to argue that even without Meridian the combined assets of Carlton and United would still make it a dominant player within ITV. However, Carlton seems less convinced, making a possible merger with rival Granada seem like an increasingly likely outcome.
Granada has been cleared to bid for either company and if it does not bid for one of the two it is expected to demand that United sell it two of its ITV franchises or be subject to a £5.5bn hostile takeover.
The companies have three weeks in which to reach a decision on the future of the network.