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Carlton Communications
Fate Merged with Granada plc
Successor ITV plc
Founded 1939
Defunct 2004
Headquarters United Kingdom London,
United Kingdom
Key people Michael Green (Chairman)
Industry Television

Carlton Communications was a British media company. It was led by Michael Green and listed on the London Stock Exchange from 1983 until 2 February 2004, when it merged with Granada plc to form ITV plc. It is most well-known as the former parent of Carlton Television Limited, but was also involved in several other media and broadcasting businesses. It was also a constituent of the FTSE 100 Index.


The company was incorporated in 1939 and first listed on the London Stock Exchange in 1983. In its early years, it concentrated mainly on the facilities side of broadcasting. It only acquired its first stake in television through its acquisition of 19% of Central Television in 1987; that year, it also acquired Zenith Productions,[1] followed by Technicolor in 1988.

Its most significant move was to outbid Thames Television for the ITV licence for London weekday television in 1991.[2] Carlton Television had a policy of being a 'publisher-broadcaster', not producing any programmes of its own; even its news was outsourced to London News Network.[3]

The company acquired a 20% stake in GMTV[2] and an 18% stake in Independent Television News in 1993.[2]

In 1996, it increased its stake in Central Television to 81%,[2] and also added Westcountry Television to its portfolio.[2] The acquisition of Central made Carlton one of the largest television producers in the UK. As well as Central, Action Time and Planet 24 were added to Green's empire.[1] Meanwhile, it expanded its non-TV interests by acquiring the cinema advertising company Rank Screen Advertising, renaming it Carlton Screen Advertising.[1]

In 1997, along with Granada plc and British Sky Broadcasting, Carlton bid successfully for the UK national digital terrestrial television licence. Sky was excluded from the eventual company, ONdigital, for competition reasons, and this marked the start of Granada and Carlton working more closely together.[4]

September 1999 saw the on-air rebranding of Central and Westcountry Television to Carlton.[5] This later paved the way for the eventual downgrading of all of ITV's regional identities, though the Central and Westcountry names never fully went away (the news programmes Central News and Westcountry Live continued), and eventually returned to the air (albeit as ITV1 Central and ITV1 Westcountry) in 2004.

In 2000, United News and Media proposed a merger with Carlton.[6] However, the parties were outmanoeuvered by Granada, who took over only the television interests of UNM (the rest of the company remains in existence). HTV's broadcast sides and ITV franchise rights (though not the majority of its production facilities) were sold to Carlton[2] for competition reasons, becoming the company's final major acquisition.

Future Conservative Party leader David Cameron was at this time Director of Corporate Affairs for Carlton.[7]

In 2001, the company sold Technicolor and[8] in 2002 ITV Digital (the renamed ONdigital) collapsed.[9]

In late 2003, Carlton and Granada finally agreed to merge. While described as a merger, it was essentially a take-over by Granada - the Granada shareholders would own two-thirds of the new company, Charles Allen would remain as Chief Executive, and Michael Green would depart the company he had built.[10] After the merger, the Granada brand would remain as the name of the North West ITV franchise and of the Granada production brand. In contrast, the Carlton franchises dropped the Carlton name for local programming from the day of the merger (2 February 2004) with the Carlton network production brand disappearing from 1 November 2004; even the London weekday franchise started trading as ITV1 London (Weekdays), and was operationally (though not legally) merged with London Weekend Television as ITV London.

The Carlton brand, which is now only used by Carlton Screen Advertising (and then only in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland), is owned by ITV plc.




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