ISBA stands firm over ITV merger in spite of talks

ISBA has denied it is softening its stance against a single ITV despite agreeing to hold talks with Carlton and Granada over the proposed merger.

ISBA accepted an invitation from Steve Morrison, chief executive of Granada, to talk about how a merger with Carlton could be acceptable to advertisers.

The advertising community has traditionally opposed a merger because it believes competition between the two companies' sales houses ensures better value media buying.

"This is nothing seismic. I think ITV is showing greater recognition of our concerns about a TV sales monopoly,

said Malcolm Earnshaw, ISBA's director-general.

Speaking at the ISBA conference last week Morrison urged advertisers to accept a merger, saying only a unified ITV could counter increased competition from a resurgent BBC and a growing BSkyB.

Angus Porter, managing director, BT Retail, said: "Posturing is not helpful. We have to look for a long-term solution. I think a single ITV is becoming increasingly likely, but it's not inevitable."

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