Granada Media has agreed to pay $2.65bn (£1.75bn) for the ITV interests of rival United News & Media.

Granada will pick up the Meridian, Anglia and HTV regional UK channels in the deal, but is expected to sell off HTV. The move, which means Granada becomes the dominant commercial broadcaster in the UK, comes after rivals Carlton Communications and United shelved plans for a proposed merger.

Granada this month amassed a war-chest of at least $2bn (£1.3bn) from a float in anticipation of a move on either United or Carlton. UK trade and industry secretary Stephen Byers paved the way for consolidation of the ITV commercial broadcast network this month by clearing the proposed merger between Carlton and United.

But the deal was made far less attractive when Byers stipulated that United would have to sell off its Meridian TV franchise due to anti-competition concerns.