NEWS ANALYSIS: Uncertainty is rife as bosses face the reality of ITV merger - What are the views of the big chiefs on the coming merger?

The competition commission’s decision to give the green light to an ITV merger has sent the industry into a flurry of speculation.

The competition commission’s decision to give the green light to an

ITV merger has sent the industry into a flurry of speculation.

Now senior ITV figures have stopped swinging their golf clubs, finished

their club sandwiches and are back at their desks, Media Business asked

them how they envisaged the future.

While the chief executives of Carlton, Granada and TSMS all say they

cannot speculate on how ITV will be carved up, it appears inevitable

that a proportion of the 700 or so sales staff are wondering about their


At Carlton, three departments were hauled into the boardroom at 101 St

Martin’s Lane last week to be assured by senior staff that it would be

business as usual and nobody need fear for their jobs.

But Martin Bowley, chief executive of Carlton Media Sales, clearly

warns: ’Our primary aim is not keeping staff but concentrating on

building the revenue and reputation of the company.’

Bowley does not deny there has been a high turnover of junior sales

executives and a loss of five senior sales staff in the last few months

’I’m proud when a member of staff is poached. It means we have a great

team that is in demand,’ he adds.

In terms of worrying about his future, Bowley says, with tongue firmly

in cheek, ’I have no intention of leaving this business. I love a good

game of musical chairs but I sprained my ankle last week.’

This may suggest Bowley feels his position is threatened, especially

considering the likelihood of a hostile bid from Granada.

But whatever scenario comes to fruition, there certainly won’t be room

for three sales chiefs.

According to an insider, TSMS chief executive Jerry Hill has offered a

20 per cent bonus to any employee who stays with the company until the

end of the year. However, Hill states his 250- to 300-strong sales force

has never been more stable in terms of turnover.

He also admits it is difficult to recruit at a time when it is hard to

promise staff a secure future.

Meanwhile, a Carlton insider realistically says: ’Whoever is put in

charge will look at their workforce and cherry-pick who they want.’

Chief executive of Granada Enterprises Mick Desmond believes Granada

Media’s position has gone from strength to strength.

Desmond says: ’This latest news puts us in a strong position from the

sales perspective. We have restructured our company to drive all aspects

of the business.

’Much needs to be resolved before drawing up the staff map of the sales

houses, which will be down to two by the end of the year. Either we will

make a hostile bid or we will take the regions. In either scenario, we

will be expanding our team, not scaling down.’

Bowley, Hill and Desmond agree that, from an ITV perspective, they

welcome the commission’s decision and see the channel’s consolidation as

a necessity.

Hill concludes: ’This is about changing the rules controlling airtime

sales. ITV has needed to reorganise every aspect of its business,

including sales, for some time. People who are worrying about the

changes are missing the point.’


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