Speculation is rife that ITV could be up for grabs, following Liberty’s purchase of a stake in the independent British broadcaster.
This makes a whole lot of sense, because ITV is fundamentally a very sound company. TV advertising is holding up much better than anyone anticipated five years ago, with the broadcaster being the only way in the UK to reach a mass TV audience.
The improved quality of its programming – think Downton Abbey – has boosted its standing. Financially, too, it’s in a good place, with a strong balance sheet while its rivals face difficulties.
But fears that ITV is another UK media asset about to fall into foreign hands are overdone. A buyer such as Liberty would be purchasing its business for its strengths. Better still, a buy-out would give ITV a lot more leverage in the US and globally.
Ian Whittaker is a media analyst at Liberum