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Five owner RTL rules out any bid for merged ITV

LONDON - RTL, the pan-European broadcaster and major shareholder of UK terrestrial TV station Five, has ruled itself out as a possible bidder for ITV.

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Recent reports have suggested that RTL may be a contender to bid for ITV once its main shareholders Granada and Carlton Communications merge.

RTL chief executive Gerhard Zeiler said in the Mail on Sunday that the company will concentrate on Five, in which it owns a 65% stake. The remainder is owned by United Business Media.

"We think we can create much more in developing Five than in buying into ITV. We are focused on and very happy with Five," Zeiler said.

Carlton and Granada announced their plans to merge in October. The deal is currently being scrutinised by the Competition Commission to determine whether the combination will be anti-competitive.

One concern among the industry is that the two companies will be allowed to merge their advertising sales houses and dominate UK airtime sales with more than 50% of the market.

There also concerns about the management structure of the merged ITV company. Shareholders have been objecting to the management packages of senior executives at Carlton and Granada, particularly their respective chief executives Michael Green and Charles Allen. Shareholders believe they may cash in their generous remuneration deals once the merger goes through.

It is said that shareholders in the two companies may have been hoping that if RTL or another company took over the merged broadcaster, they would bring in new management.

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