ITV bosses are apparently considering a merger with Channel 4 and Five to help them beat the recession.

According to reports in The Mirror, the radical proposal would save millions in production costs as all three channels could pool studios, staff and resources.

This would also enable more cash to be invested into programming – and could create a broadcasting giant to rival the BBC.

An ITV1 spokesperson confirmed that the channel was looking at ‘a number of radical ideas’ in response to communications minister Lord Carter’s interim Digital Britain report.

A source added: “These are extremely difficult times. Things have to change or we won’t survive.”

But the merger could encounter problems with competition laws, as the new superchannel could end up controlling up to 70 per cent of the advertising market.

And it’s likely that any merger could upset commercial rivals such as BSkyB.

Meanwhile, ITV is expected to confirm next week that revenue has fallen up to 20 per cent in the past few months.

The broadcaster is also expected to axe 500 jobs – less than six months after the departure of 1,000 staff.

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