C4 and C5 look at sales merger

Consolidation among ITV owners could lead to ‘snowball effect’ on rules covering airtime sales

Channels 4 and 5 could merge their airtime sales operations if regulations are changed following consolidation among ITV’s owners United News & Media, Carlton and Granada.

Sources say that initial soundings have been taken between the two companies’ chief executives, Channel 4’s Michael Jackson and Channel 5’s David Elstein, over the plan.

Elstein strongly denies that any talks have taken place, but says: “I haven’t considered it except as a theoretical possibility. At one level it looks obviously positive… If the rules were to change, we would look at it.”

Channel 4 commercial director Andy Barnes says there have been “no discussions between Channel 4 and Channel 5” on the subject and a sales merger could not be considered “until those rules change”.

Current rules – which forbid a Channel 4/5 sales merger – will be turned on their head if Trade Secretary Stephen Byers allows Carlton to merge with United News & Media or Granada to merge with either of them.

An ITC insider says permission for any of the possible deals would lead to a “snowball effect” on rules covering airtime sales, with whole licence sections having to be reviewed.

There has been fierce speculation among media agencies about the implications of the changes, with suggestions that Sky could sell Flextech airtime and Channel 4 could sell 5’s ad space. But one insider asks: “What would be in it for Channel 4?” The channel turned over &£600m last year, compared with Channel 5’s &£180m.

Latest from Marketing Week

Marketing Week Meets… Mark Ritson

The Marketing Week columnist, consultant and professor explains why marketers need to talk about “making money first”, in a podcast recorded at the Festival of Marketing in October.


Access Marketing Week’s wealth of insight, analysis and opinion that will help you do your job better.

Register and receive the best content from the only UK title 100% dedicated to serving marketers' needs.

We’ll ask you just a few questions about what you do and where you work. The more we know about our visitors, the better and more relevant content we can provide for them. And, yes, knowing our audience better helps us find commercial partners too. Don't worry, we won't share your information with other parties, unless you give us permission to do so.

Register now


Our award winning editorial team (PPA Digital Brand of the Year) ask the big questions about the biggest issues on everything from strategy through to execution to help you navigate the fast moving modern marketing landscape.


From the opportunities and challenges of emerging technology to the need for greater effectiveness, from the challenge of measurement to building a marketing team fit for the future, we are your guide.


Information, inspiration and advice from the marketing world and beyond that will help you develop as a marketer and as a leader.

Having problems?

Contact us on +44 (0)20 7292 3703 or email customerservices@marketingweek.com

If you are looking for our Jobs site, please click here