ITV given the go-ahead to take full control of ITN

LONDON - As part of a number of communications bill concessions agreed last night, the government has agreed that ITV should be allowed to buy the ITN news service outright.

It came as the government agreed a deal with Lord Puttnam to include a plurality test that will ensure that one man or company will not be allowed to control too much of the UK's media.

Yesterday was the final day in the report stage of the communications bill, which will shake up the UK media industry.

The concession to allow Carlton Communications and Granada to buy ITN ahead of their £2.6bn merger was supported by a cross-party alliance of peers.

Liberal Democrat media spokesman Lord McNally said recently that: "At the moment, ITN is simply resource-starved because the system encourages such a squeeze."

Under current broadcasting rules, Carlton Communications and Granada each own a 20% stake in ITN, which provides news for stations including ITV, Channel 4 and Five.

With the companies working towards a £2.6bn merger, they would own a 40% stake between them and the government had not intended to allow them to own any more.

Both companies have been lobbying for a change that would allow them to buy the rest of the company from United Business Media, Reuters and the Daily Mail & General Trust, which they will now be able to do.

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