Granada’s 260 sales staff were summoned to the sales floor at 11am
on Friday to hear the Competition Commission’s decision on the
Carlton/United merger - which could result in the loss of hundreds of
As tension mounted among the sales staff of the three ITV powerhouses -
Carlton, Granada and TSMS - senior directors switched on their WAP
phones and awaited the news while teeing-off on the golf course.
In the end, Stephen Byers, the trade and industry secretary, cleared the
way for a trio of proposed mergers between the three companies.
The commission gave Granada the go-ahead to merge with either Carlton or
United but a Carlton/United merger will only get the green light on the
condition that the Meridian franchise is sold within six months.
Meridian covers the South and South-east of England. The franchise is 75
per cent owned by United News and Media with a 20 per cent stake
belonging to Carlton TV.
Industry sceptics believe Granada will raise a hostile bid for United or
Granada’s army of sales staff have every reason to be tense. One senior
insider predicted up to a third of the sales positions will be cut,
whatever the merger outcome.
He added that senior staff were already ’pulling out their business
cards to tout around’.
Carlton houses approximately 150 sales people, while Granada employs an
estimated 250. TSMS has the largest sales force of 250-300 staff.
A question-mark hangs over who would head advertising sales in the
merged operation. The two main candidates are Jerry Hill, chief
executive of TSMS, and Mick Desmond, chief executive of Granada
Martin Bowley, chief executive of Carlton Media Sales, could also be a
contender for the top job, although it is believed he is taking an
increasingly important role in Carlton’s digital ventures.