TV news merger idea for leaner operation

Television companies Granada and Carlton are considering merging their regional, national and international news operations into one company.

Television companies Granada and Carlton are considering merging their regional, national and international news operations into one company.

The plan would see local news teams including Anglia News combined with ITV News to form a single unit.

It's part of an initiative by Granada, which owns Anglia, and Carlton to form a stronger, leaner ITV – more able to compete with rivals such as Channels 4, 5 and Sky.

Granada and Carlton are currently awaiting approval of a £3.4bn merger of the two companies.


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Although the merger is still being scrutinised by the Competition Commission the pair have completed a good deal of preparation for how they would integrate the two businesses.

One plan is for the new ITV company to comprise three divisions – production, broadcasting and news.

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The Government's new Communications Act allows ITN, which provides ITV's national news service, to be owned by one company for the first time.

And Granada and Carlton believe amalgamating ITV News with their own local news providers would save money and improve the service.

Company insiders say the impact on viewers would be minimal – with Anglia News and ITV News retaining their distinctive looks and separate programmes, including different Anglia News programmes for the East and West of the region.

But there would be a major reorganisation of the newsroom at Anglia News and its sister regional companies, raising fears of job

losses.

The move would be a logical next step. Anglia News and sister companies already have a reciprocal agreement with ITV News to share resources.

Reports produced by Anglia News presenters are regularly aired on ITV's digital news channel.

Insiders say the plan is just one of several ideas being floated. But even

if the companies decide against creating a single news company, bosses are still looking to trim costs from a merger between Granada and Carlton.

Anglia News staff in Norwich are unlikely to be affected by any cutbacks, but staff in areas where Anglia's transmission area overlaps with Carlton's Central region could be under threat.

The Competition Commission is due to issue its verdict on Granada and Carlton's proposed merger next month.

If the commission recommends approval then there would be further negotiations on how to implement any concessions recommended.

These are likely to revolve around the pair's advertising sales departments, which if combined would control more than 50pc of television advertising.

Company bosses have warned that being told to sell one of the two advertising houses would jeopardise the entire deal.

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