ITV plc


ITV plc

Infobox_Company
company_name = ITV plc
company_
company_type = Public (LSE: [http://uk.finance.yahoo.com/q?s=ITV.L ITV] )
company_slogan =
foundation = 2004
location = London, England, UK
key_people = Michael Grade CBE
(Executive Chairman);
John Cresswell
(Chief Operating Officer/CFO)
num_employees = circa 6,000 (2007)
industry = Media
products = Broadcasting
revenue = profit£2,082 million (2007)
operating_income = profit£192 million (2007)
net_income = profit£138 million (2007)
homepage = [http://www.itvplc.com www.itvplc.com]

ITV plc (lse|ITV) is a British media company that operates 11 of the 15 regional television broadcasters that make up the ITV Network, the oldest and largest commercial terrestrial television network in the United Kingdom. The network, which is currently branded ITV1 by ITV plc, and the independent Channel Television, has vied with the British Broadcasting Corporation's BBC One for the status of the UK's most watched channel since the 1950s (a crown it only lost in 2005). Although ITV plc has a dominant influence on the ITV Network, it should be noted that it is not ITV, does not form part of ITV itself, and does not actually own or operate the whole network.

ITV plc is listed on the London Stock Exchange. It was formed by the merger of Granada plc and Carlton Communications with Granada being valued about at about twice the worth of Carlton. It began trading on 2 February 2004. This was the most recent stage in a long process of mergers between the original ITV regional franchises.

History

ITV plc was the result of mergers between the various mergers between the companies of the ITV network that had taken place from 1993 when the ownership rules were relaxed.

The first wave of mergers began with Yorkshire Television acquiring Tyne Tees Television in 1992, forming a parent group called Yorkshire-Tyne Tees Television Holdings. [http://www.ofcom.org.uk/static/archive/itc/uk_television_sector/overview/key_dates.asp.html An Overview of Television in the UK] Ofcom, 2002] In 1994, Carlton Communications - which had previously already owned a 20% stake in Central Independent Television - acquired the remainder of the company and, thanks to Central's shareholdings, inherited a 20% stake in Meridian Broadcasting. Later the same year, Granada acquired LWT (through a hostile takeover worth in the region of £750 million) and MAI, which controlled Meridian Broadcasting, acquired Anglia Television (with MAI becoming United News & Media, after itself merging with United Newspapers - owners of The Daily Express in 1996). Ownership rules, that previously restricted ownership of ITV licences by one company to two outright, plus 20% in a third, were relaxed, and so Carlton went on to acquire Westcountry Television (later re-branding it Carlton, along with Central), Granada acquired Yorkshire-Tyne Tees Holdings (with the parent group becoming Granada Media, later simply Granada) and United acquired HTV.

The idiosyncrasies and business model of the future ITV plc operation can be found in the way these new conglomerates operated their franchises. Carlton re-branded all of its stations with its own name, creating a single identity across the whole expanse of its territory. By contrast, Granada and United, while keeping the franchisees names, centralised their continuity departments - Granada in Leeds and United in Southampton. All three, however, merged the network production operations of their franchises, creating Carlton Productions, Granada Content and United Productions. This would later be taken several stages further.

By the end of the 1990s, there were three dominating owners of the ITV franchises in England and Wales: Carlton Communications, Granada plc and United News and Media. In 2000, after an aborted merger attempt with Carlton, UNM decided to leave ITV and Granada bought all the UNM stations, but sold HTV to Carlton in order to comply with the permitted audience percentage covered by a single broadcasting interest. It kept the production arm of HTV, however, re-naming it Granada Bristol and moving it out of Bath Road to a new, smaller office in Whiteladies Road (near the BBC). This arm of the company finally closed in 2006, following later rationalisation of ITV's production operations. The last remaining independent ITV franchise in England and Wales, Border Television, had been bought by Capital Group in 2000, and was sold on to Granada in 2001, with Border's radio assets being retained by Capital (now GCap).

In 2004, Granada and Carlton merged, creating a single company for all ITV franchises in England and Wales. [ [http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2003/nov/15/itv.politicsandthemedia Carlton-Granada merger clears last hurdle] The Guardian, 2003] One of the consequences of the merger was (according to the company) an over-capacity of studio facilities and production units around the country, which had previously been rivals, but were now all part of the same group. In order to make cost savings, several large regional headquarters, studio sites and programme departments closed and merged. Among the casualties were network production and studio facilities of Tyne Tees in Newcastle upon Tyne, Meridian in Southampton, Carlton in Nottingham and Anglia in Norwich. In all cases, ITV moved the regional franchisee to a new location complete with hi-tech facilities for news production, but with a minimal number of (physically smaller) studios and the loss of many jobs. Tyne Tees' factual department merged with Yorkshire's in Leeds; Meridian's factual and sport production moved to London; all network production in Nottingham was re-allocated to London, Manchester or Leeds (and the local "Central News" studio moved to Birmingham), and Anglia Factual has been reduced to a satellite operation of ITV Productions, primarily producing output for the international market or occasionally third parties in the UK.

Prior to the merger, and despite being rivals within ITV, Granada and Carlton had already been involved in several joint ventures, including the digital terrestrial television operator ITV Digital that went bankrupt in 2002. They also owned the digital channel ITV2, which had launched on December 1998, and 65% of the (re-branded) ITV News Channel, previously owned by ITN and originally launched as the ITN News Channel. As well as consolidating its (now 40%) shareholding in ITN itself, the newly merged company was able to buy the final 35% stake in the ITV News Channel from ITN's original partners NTL in April 2004. In November the same year, and following a frantic last-minute deal with BSkyB to buy its half of the Granada Sky Broadcasting joint venture, they launched the digital channel ITV3, which replaced Granada Plus on satellite and cable. A year later they launched ITV4. However, due to multiplex issues (and the fact that it was losing money) the ITV News Channel controversially had its hours on Freeview reduced, and was finally closed down on 23 December 2005, with its Freeview space was taken over by ITV4 and the CITV Channel, which launched in March 2006.

April 2006 saw the launch of the participation channel ITV Play. Following a series of scandals surrounding participation TV, the dedicated ITV Play channel was closed down in March 2007, followed by the late-night phone-in quiz shows on the ITV Network in December 2007, however the brand has continued to be used for part of the new gaming section of itv.com.

Operations

ITV plc is divided into four divisions: "Channels", which operates the TV networks and includes the ITV News Group, which runs the ITV regional franchises; "Global Content", which is comprised of ITV Productions, the network production division (of which Granada is an on screen brand name when producing for other networks) which also runs ITV's facilities businesses, and ITV Global Entertainment, the arm which exploits programme rights; "Commercial", which runs ITV advertising sales arm, and "Consumer", which runs itv.com, Friends Reunited and has responsibility in ITV plc shareholdings in Freeview and SDN.

Assets

ITV franchises

ITV plc currently owns the following ITV franchises in the UK:

Former Granada-owned franchises:
* Anglia Television: East of England franchise
* Border Television: Scottish/English Border and Isle of Man franchise
* Granada Television: North West England franchise
* London Weekend Television: London weekend franchise
* Meridian Broadcasting: South and South East England franchise
* Tyne Tees Television: North East England franchise
* Yorkshire Television: Yorkshire/Lincolnshire franchise

Former Carlton-owned franchises:
* Carlton Television: London weekday franchise
* Central Independent Television: Midlands franchise
* HTV: Wales and West of England franchise
* Westcountry Television: South West England franchise

Note that "ITV Thames Valley" is not a franchise but a combined opt-out for parts of the Central and Meridian franchises. Similarly, both Carlton Television and London Weekend Television are now exclusively known as ITV London although both still remain in legal existence. The combined Wales and West franchise also appears to operate as two separate entities (ITV Wales, ITV West), although legally they both form part of the single franchise held by HTV Group.

ITV plc also owns 75% of the ITV national breakfast television franchise GMTV.

Wholly owned digital channels

* ITV2
* ITV3
* ITV4
* CITV Channel
* Men & Motors (operated by ITV Digital Channels Ltd)

Other assets

ITV plc owned a 16.9% shareholding in STV Group plc, owner of the Scottish and Grampian ITV franchises, which was reduced to around 5.5% following a Rights Issue that ITV did not take up, as well as a 40% stake in its news provider Independent Television News Limited.

On 27 April 2005 ITV plc bought SDN, the digital terrestrial franchise holder of Multiplex A (currently transmitting ten channels) from its shareholders, S4C and UBM for £134 million.

ITV plc also owns the largest cinema advertising business in the UK and Ireland, Carlton Screen Advertising and recently bought Friends Reunited, a website dedicated to reunited former school friends or work colleagues in a number of countries.

ITV plc is also the co-founder of Freesat alongside the BBC.

Future

ITV plc has been the subject of a flurry of rumoured take-over and merger bids since it was formed. For example, on 2006-11-09, NTL announced that it had approached ITV plc about a proposed merger [cite press release
title = Ntl Incorporated Discussions with ITV plc
publisher = NTL
date = 2006-11-09
url = http://www.ntl.com/mediacentre/press/display.asp?id=874
accessdate = 2006-12-06
] [cite press release
title = ITV and NTL 'in merger talks'
publisher = ITV plc
date = 2006-11-09
url = http://www.itvplc.com/itv/news/releases/pr2006/2006-11-09/
accessdate = 2006-12-06
] . The merger was effectively blocked by BSkyB on 2006-11-17 when it controversially bought a 17.9% stake in ITV plc for £940 million [cite news
last = Welsh
first = James
title = Sky buys 17.9% of ITV
publisher = Digital Spy
date = 2006-11-17
url = http://www.digitalspy.co.uk/article/ds39556.html
accessdate = 2006-12-06
] , a move that attracted anger from NTL shareholder Richard Branson [cite news
last = Wilkes
first = Neil
title = Sky/ITV: Branson statement in full
publisher = Digital Spy
date = 2006-11-20
url = http://www.digitalspy.co.uk/article/ds39642.html
accessdate = 2006-12-06
] and an investigation from media and telecoms regulator Ofcom [cite news
last = Welsh
first = James
title = Ofcom examines impact of Sky's ITV stake
publisher = Digital Spy
date = 2006-11-21
url = http://www.digitalspy.co.uk/article/ds39694.html
accessdate = 2006-12-06
] . On 2006-12-06, NTL announced that it had complained to the Office of Fair Trading about BSkyB's move. NTL stated that it had withdrawn its attempt to buy ITV plc, citing that it did not believe that there was any possibility to make a deal on favourable terms [cite news
last = Oatts
first = Joanne
title = NTL complains about Sky as it drops plans for ITV Ofcom
publisher = Digital Spy
date = 2006-12-06
url = http://www.digitalspy.co.uk/article/ds40409.html
accessdate = 2006-12-06
] . At the same time as the NTL bid, RTL, the owner of Five, was also rumoured to be preparing a bid for ITV plc, [cite news
last = Oatts
first = Joanne
title = RTL to make ITV decision this week
publisher = Digital Spy
date = 2006-11-16
url = http://www.digitalspy.co.uk/article/ds39466.html
accessdate = 2006-12-06
] with the possibility of a stock-swap with BSkyB. The plan would see RTL acquiring BSkyB's stake in ITV plc (with the aim of further acquisitions of shares in the future) in exchange for BSkyB taking full control of Five. However, no move from RTL has yet materialised so far.

References

External links

* [http://www.itvplc.com ITV plc] at itv.com


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