The British government is expected to announce today the relaxation of restrictions on cross-ownership among the ITV commercial stations.

The announcement is likely to trigger takeover bids by the major regional ITV stations with heavyweights Granada and Carlton looming as the most powerful predators. Central TV and London Weekend TV are likely to fall into the category of both predator and prey.

When the smoke clears, the country’s top-rated TV network will no longer be a mosaic of 14 fragmented regional stations but a simplified map of two or three major media groupings.

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