Michael Grade: ITV three-way merger 'not going to happen'

ITV executive chairman Michael Grade has dismissed reports that the broadcaster is proposing a three-way merger with Channel 4 and Five.

Grade said today that ITV had outlined the plan to the Government advisers working on Lord Carter’s Digital Britain review as “a bit of blue-sky thinking” and said it was “not going to happen”.

A merger of Britain’s three main advertiser-funded public service broadcasters would create a broadcasting giant to rival the BBC.

“Let’s get this into perspective,” Grade told the Today programme on BBC Radio 4 this morning.

“We were invited by Stephen Carter’s digital team to do a bit of blue-sky thinking.

“It’s not a proposal. It won’t be a proposal. It’s not going to happen.”

Asked by John Humphrys whether the merger made sense, Grade replied: “No. It was illustrative. In 20 or 30 years’ time, who knows.

“It was an illustrative slide to show that consolidation might be a market response to the problems that we’re in at the moment.

“Of course it wouldn’t be acceptable and we’re not proposing it. When the recession lifts we’re going to be in fantastic shape.”

ITV this morning announced a 41 per cent drop in like-for-like pre-tax profits in 2008.

It confirmed plans to cut 600 jobs as part of a £245m-a-year cost-saving programme by 2011.

Stephen Carter’s final report on Digital Britain is expected in the summer.

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