Carlton losses cast doubt on likelihood of Granada merger

Carlton has cast doubt over a potential merger with Granada after

posting a dramatic fall in profits this week.



The company has axed 300 staff and will make a further 100 redundant

following the pre-tax loss of £409 million. A 12.7 per cent drop

in its ad income and spend on digital projects contributed to the

losses.



Gerry Murphy, the chief executive of Carlton, said a merger was one of a

number of possible outcomes for Carlton, and said it was not a clear

strategy upon which he could build. He would not comment on rumours that

Carlton had held takeover talks with Channel 5's owner, RTL.



Murphy said the financial losses would impact on ITV Digital and added

that 250 staff will lose their jobs as Carlton and Granada attempt to

cut costs on the venture. About £100 million will be cut from its

budget, but Carlton has pledged to spend a further £180 million

before its break even target in two years' time.



- Media Forum, p12.