The last oddity 

10 May 2004 tbs.pm/613

MediaGuardian: ITV buys GMTV stake from SMG

It’s an era where one company own the entire of ITV in England and Wales (and a small part of Scotland). 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. No separate weekend franchises, no one to worry about.

Oh, hang on… there’s an error there isn’t there? It isn’t 24 hours a day is it? Nope. It’s only 20 hours and 35 minutes a week…

The last oddity of ITV isn’t ITV at all – it’s GMTV, which between 6am and 9.25am, broadcasts from a sofa on the South Bank.

Whilst it may look like just a programme, it’s not. It’s a separate franchise which takes over from the other operators for 3 hours, 25 minutes.

It’s increasingly become an curiosity in the days of a single ITV, and 24 hour broadcasting.

However unlike its predecessor TVam, GMTV has never been totally alien to the rest of ITV – counting several ITV companies as its shareholders. The merger of Carlton and Granada meant that the newly formed ITV plc owned 50% of the venture, and now they’ve pounced on some more – agreeing to take SMG’s 25% for a whopping £31m. If all goes ahead, ITV plc will be obliged to offer to buy out the remaining shareholder, Disney, for the same amount.

And if it does, the last oddity will disappear and ITV will become a 24/7 operation. In England and Wales anyway…

On the same day, SMG announced it had settled with ITV plc over the use of the ITV name – ITV plc giving it extra cash for selling SMG’s ads obviously had nothing to do with it. But the future must also look bleak for SMG. ITV plc has taken full control of the ITV News Channel and looks set to try for GMTV – all in the space of a month. How long before it tries to fill its Scottish shaped hole?

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