Shareholders endorse ITV merger

Deal still subject to high court's approval

NEW YORK — Shareholders of Granada and Carlton Communications, as expected, agreed in separate sessions Tuesday to merge the two U.K. media groups.

Granada CEO Charles Allen said during a shareholder meeting that the final voting tally will be announced today through the London Stock Exchange.

Deal will create a unified ITV, a commercial broadcasting giant, which will launch officially Feb. 2.

Allen said later that the nomination committee is meeting with candidates to fill the post of ITV chairman, with an appointment expected in February or March. A senior team of 100-150 managers across the company will be in place when ITV opens for business. Granada execs so far have fared the best in the merged company.

The deal is subject to the high court’s approval, which is expected Jan. 30.

Allen said ITV will develop a family of digital channels to join its existing digital ITV2.

He also said the company would consider buying the Scottish ITV franchises held by SMG if the price is right. SMG’s TV assets include Scottish TV and Grampian TV.

Carlton said three nonexecutive directors, David Green, Leslie Hill and Sydney Lipworth, will resign as directors of Carlton and will not join the ITV board. Hill was chairman of the ITV Network until June 2002.

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