I almost can't believe I'm about to engage in this debate again...
I dispute ITV having to unify in order to survive against satellite and cable channels. Terrestrial TV was and still is localised in the US where cable networks have been around in most urban areas much longer than they have been in Britain. If ITV had stayed regionalised then the real turning point would have been when internet TV started taking off.
You're really using the United States of America (Area: 9.834 million km², Population: 325,000,000) as evidence that localised television should still work here, in the United Kingdom (Area: 242,495 km², Population: 66,000,000)?
I still struggle to understand the mentality behind ITV companies having to source 25% of programmes from indies after 1992. With hindsight it's questionable whether this, and the facility for an ITV company to be a publisher broadcaster, was a successful one. What sort of programmes did the ITC have in mind?
Little to do with the ITC. It was as a result of government legislation which aimed to stimulate a market which was being suffocated by a dominant commercial network. It worked - we now have a thriving independent production industry (including Thames, incidentally).
Carlton was the 'wrecking ball' that was responsible for transforming ITV into what it is today. If Carlton had failed to win either the London Weekday or South and South East regions then they would have wormed their way into ITV via Central.
No it wasn't, but even if I humour your usual "Carlton's the worst, Thames' the best" drivel for a moment, I still question how much of a "wrecking ball" it was considering we now have a highly profitable organisation that has man still delivers high quality programming both domestically and globally.
There are times when I think that there should have been another franchise round in the early 2000s that also included the digital channels.
And you think there would still have been ITV digital channels if that had been on the agenda? They only existed as a result of significant investment from the commercial entities which owned most of the franchises (including your dreaded Carlton). With a franchise round upcoming at such a crucial time - you really think they would have even thought about investing millions in channels they could imminently lose?