The official announcement of new ownership for London-based distributor ITEL is expected by the end of September, an ITEL source confirms. The transaction is part of a larger deal between United News & Media and Granada Media (both U.K. broadcasting companies), in which the former has agreed to sell its television assets – including its three Independent Television Networks licensees: Meridian, Anglia and HTV – to the latter, pending approval from shareholders. The value of ITEL’s assets is estimated to be £1,750 million (US$2.635 billion).
The arrangement between United and Granada comes in the wake of a collapsed merger between United and Carlton. All are licensees of the U.K.’s ITV.
The planned merger fell through after government sanction was granted only on the condition that United part with Meridian, its ITV franchise in southern England.
If United had gone ahead with the deal, Meridian would have become open game for Granada – a risk United was apparently unwilling to take. Now the issue is whether Granada will attempt to amalgamate with Carlton as well.
Both merger proposals underwent months of review, first by the Independent Television Commission and later by the Competition Commission in the U.K., prior to final assessment by the secretary of state for the Department of Trade and Industry. Permission was granted for both at the end of July 2000.
ITEL will be attending MIPCOM under its usual banner. Any decisions about re-structuring will follow shareholder approval.