ITV merger goes ahead as companies agree conditions

LONDON – Carlton and Granada have agreed to the conditions imposed upon their merger by the Department of Trade and Industry that will ensure that the deal does not operate against the public interest.

The conditions, including the controversial contract rights renewal system, which allows advertisers to renew their contracts on the same terms as earlier deals, were first set out on October 7 after a lengthy competition inquiry and subsequent report from the Office of Fair Trading.

Patricia Hewitt, secretary of state for trade and industry, said: "The Office of Fair Trading has advised me that they have obtained the undertakings, which I have asked them to seek from Carlton and Granada.

Advertisers and agencies have been mainly concerned that now the two sales houses are going to merge, the broadcaster will control 52% of the market, which Hewitt believes have been addressed by the conditions.

"I believe they satisfactorily address the concerns identified by the Competition Commission in its report, and have therefore decided to accept the undertakings offered," she said.

Charles Allen, chairman of Granada, said that now ITV had finalised the merger details with the government it would talks with the advertising industry.

"We now look forward to working with advertisers and moving swiftly to implement the integration plan and complete the merger," he said.

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