Carlton/United/Granada union pending
The decision to proceed with two proposed mergers – between the U.K.’s Carlton and United News & Media, and Granada and United News & Media – rests with the secretary of state for the Department of Trade and Industry. Both the Independent Television Commission and the Competition Commission in the U.K. have made their recommendations as to whether the mergers would operate against the public interest. The secretary of state is expected to take anywhere from two to six weeks to decide.
As it stands, Carlton, United and Granada are separate licensees within the framework of the Independent Television Network (ITV). The implication of either merger is a near-monopoly of TV franchises in England. However, because existing legislation prohibits more than 15% audience share by any one licensee, a merger could only proceed if the law is changed or if certain conditions are imposed on the deal.
Vivendi buys Seagram, Canal+
Following the trend toward mega-mergers, French company Vivendi has agreed to purchase Montreal-based entertainment and distilling giant Seagram Co. for US$34 billion in stock, and the remaining 51% of French-owned pay-TV service Canal+ (Vivendi already owns 49%). To satisfy a French law restricting any one company from owning more than 49% of a tv broadcaster, Vivendi is expected to establish Canal+ as a separate company. The new parent entity will be called Vivendi Universal.
Oscars freeze out Web premieres
In the eyes of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS), the Internet is no better than TV. The Academy’s board of governors recently decided that if a film airs on the Web prior to its theatrical release, it will be disqualified from Oscar consideration – the same rule that applies to a film that premieres on television.
And in the documentary categories, the board voted to add a new rule prohibiting a film included in the second-round competition from publicizing itself as an ‘Academy Award finalist,’ an ‘Academy Award Shortlist Film,’ or anything similar. Both rules will be applied to the 73rd annual Academy Awards (set for March 2001).