Pearson Television is talking to broadcasters about the possibility of losing its independent status as it ups its stake in Channel 5, writes Tara Conlan.
The change will have a huge impact on ITV, which commissions more than 80 hours a year of The Bill from Pearson plus Wish You Were Here? Pearson also makes This Is Your Life for BBC 1. They are all classed as independent productions.

Broadcasters working with Pearson will be forced to commission independent productions from other sources to meet independent production quotas.

The move echoes changes in the status of Action Time, Planet 24 and Ginger - all bought by larger media groups in recent months.

Pearson is expected to finalise negotiations next week to buy a third of Warburg Pincus' 18 per cent stake in C5, along with CLT-Ufa and United News & Media. The move will give Pearson a 30 per cent economic stake in C5. A company 'may not have a shareholding greater than 25 per cent in a broadcaster' to qualify as an independent producer under the 1991 Broadcasting (Independent Productions) Order.

A Pearson spokesman said: 'It's a fact of life. We've been talking to our remaining partners about how the (Warburg Pincus) stake is carved up. We've informed all our broadcasting contacts in this country but the situation is not yet resolved.'

ITV is considering Pearson's change of status but has not reached a conclusion. A BBC spokesman said: 'We're taking advice to ensure we comply with the 1990 and 1996 Broadcasting Act.' Any change in status would not affect commissions until next year.

CLT interview, page 20.