Between the Lines: ITV comes in for more stick

It's not surprising any proposed merger between ITV and ntl would get advertisers and agencies uncomfortable (page 2).

The merged entity could control more than half of the TV ad airtime market.

But this week's reaction to the merger talks is nothing compared with the frenzy that just three years back was unleashed on the notion of one ITV. When Carlton and Granada merged, such was the level of advertiser concern and fears of rampant monopoly that strict measures were put in place to keep ITV in check: CRR.

This time round, though, concern is more muted. Perhaps because the merged ITV never managed to be the tyrant some feared. But more likely because TV advertising per se is no longer seen as the must-have element in a big advertiser's armoury. If a merged ntl/ITV tries to flex its muscle with TV advertisers, they'll be off.

Despite all of this though, you can expect advertisers to be vocal in their concerns. If there's one lesson that's been learnt along the way, it's to shout loudly before you accept a compromise.

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