a media industry resource

ITV plc

This profile considers UK broadcaster ITV plc.

It covers -

  • introduction
  • the group
  • studies
  • landmarks


During 2003 the UK government approved the merger of Carlton and Granada to form ITV plc, an entity that is distinct from the grouping of UK commercial television licensees collectively described as 'independent television' (aka ITV).

Detailed profiles of Granada and Carlton are available elsewhere on this site.

The new group was affected by management disagreements and profitabilityu problems, reflected in suggestions that it would bt acquired by Bertelsmann subsidiary RTL (owner of Channel 5) or by the group formed through merger of NTL and Virgin Mobile. In November 2006 Murdoch-controlled BSkyB bought a 17.9% stake in ITV for £940m

The group

The merger resulted in a group that

  • owned all of the regional Channel 3 licences in England and Wales, which together account for over 90% of ITV1 advertising revenues
  • wholly owned ITV2, a free-to-air digital channel
  • included production arm comprising what is claimed as the largest commercial television production company in the UK and one of Europe's largest programme distributors
  • owned the market leading cinema screen advertising businesses in the UK and Republic of Ireland and has similar joint ventures in continental Europe and the United States.

It had

  • a 50% economic interest in GMTV, which holds the UK national Channel 3 licence for breakfast television
  • a 16.9% interest in SMG plc, which operates the two regional Channel 3 licences in Scotland
  • a 50.5% economic interest in Granada Sky Broadcasting, a UK multi-channel operator;
  • a 45% stake in Ireland’s TV3 Television Network
  • 10.3% of Australia’s Seven Network
  • a 4.99% stake in Arsenal Football Club
  • a 9.99% stake in Liverpool Football Club

In September 2004 it announced the sale of its 5.5% interest in French electronics group Thomson S.A for £172m, unloading its 18% interest in Village Roadshow (inherited from Granada) during September and October of that year. In February 2005 it announced sale of its Superhire prop hire business (acquired by Carlton in 1984) to Space Holdings for £8.2m. In April of the following year it unloaded Granada Learning to US private equity firm Veronis Suhler Stevenson in a deal worth up to £53m. In August 2006 it announced that it had elected not to exercise its pre-emptive rights to purchase TV3, selling its 45% stake to private equity group Doughty Hanson.


Studies of ITV Plc's predecessors are highlighted in the Carlton and Granada profiles elsewhere on this site. ITN is explored in the valedictory And Finally ... ? The News From ITN (London: Politico's 2005) by Richard Lindley.


2003 merger of Granada and Carlton as ITV plc

2004 agreement that ITV plc will acquire SMG 25% shareholding in GMTV Ltd (breakfast television) for £31.0m

2004 sells Carlton Books arm

2004 sells 5.5% interest in French electronics group Thomson S.A for £172m

2004 sells 18% stake in Village Roadshow for £36m

2004 sells special effects arm Moving Picture Company (MPC) to Thomson for £52.7m

2004 acquires rights to manage and market Fox News archive (31,500 hours of Fox News content, inc Movietone news archives)

2005 sells Superhire props hire operation

2005 pays £30m for 5% stake in Arsenal football club

2005 buys 33% stake in UK digital terrestrial television multiplex operator SDN (10 UK digital terrestrial TV channels including Five, QVC, UKTV Gold, ABC1, Discovery and Cartoon Network) from United for £35m

2005 agrees to pay up to £175m for Friends Reunited

2006 sells Granada Learning to Veronis Suhler Stevenson in deal worth up to £53m

2006 sells 11.6% stake in Australian Seven Network for £87m

2006 sells 45% stake in Irish terrestrial broadcaster TV3 for £70m

2006 BSkyB buys 17.9% stake in ITV for £940m