The British government is likely to approve a merger between ITV groups Granada and Carlton this week, reports say.
Britains's Secretary of State for Trade and Industry Patricia Hewitt will approve the deal subject to tough conditions, two Sunday newspapers claimed.
The deal would allow the pair to take on the increasing challenge posed by satellite broadcaster BSkyB and the BBC, the reports said.
But the strings expected to be attached to the tie-up could scupper it, the two companies have warned.
The proposed tie-up between Carlton and Granada, which control 12 of the 15 ITV franchises, went before the Competition Commission in March amid fears that a merged broadcaster would have excessive power to hike advertising prices.
Under the proposals, Granada would take a 68% stake in the new business.
Granada owns seven ITV franchises including Granada Television, London Weekend Television, Yorkshire Television, Tyne Tees Television, Anglia Television, Meridian Broadcasting and Border Television.
Carlton Television owns the licence in five regions – London & LNN, Central, West Country, HTV West and HTV Wales.
Its content division has made programmes including Inspector Morse and Survivor.