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Tuesday, 31 July, 2001, 10:53 GMT 11:53 UK
Bidding closes for ITV news
ITN news reader Trevor McDonald
The News At Ten may never be the same if ITN lose
A rival group threatens ITN's 45-year dominance in providing the ITV news, as bidding for the lucrative four-year deal closes on Tuesday.

A tender by the Channel Three News consortium is the first to threaten ITN's prized contract, which accounts for about 45% of its revenue.

Channel Three's backers include the satellite broadcaster BSkyB and the American network CBS.

The contract to supply the network news begins in 2003 and could be worth more than 150m.

ITN, a broadcasting institution as long-established as ITV itself, now provides bulletins for commercial broadcasters including Channel 4 and Channel 5, 250 commercial radio stations and several 24-hour news services.

It has already seen off challenges for the Channel 4 and Channel 5 bulletins from BSkyB, the owner of Sky News, and it is confident of retaining its first and most important contract.

ITN handed its 140-page proposal to ITV on Tuesday morning.

ITN Chief Executive, Stewart Purvis, said: "Our proposal reflects ITV's very detailed and ambitious invitation to tender.

"We have worked hard to put together what we hope is a winning combination of guaranteed quality, innovation and value for money."

ITN said it would not be releasing any details of its tender document.

Previous challenge

The rival Channel Three News cannot be lightly dismissed.

As well as BSkyB and CBS, its backers are Chrysalis, Ulster Television and the financial news group Bloomberg.

It says that by setting up from scratch with new technology, and providing news only for ITV, it can provide a more cost-effective service.

The BBC's media correspondent Torin Douglas says that means ITN is likely to have to cut costs if it wants to hold on to the contract.

The only previous challenge to the ITV news contract was a failed lone bid by BSkyB in 1996.

This was blocked because no shareholder in the news supplier to ITV can hold more than 20% of the company.

At this stage it is unlikely that any more bidders will emerge because they would first need to earn a nomination from the Independent Television Commission (ITC).

The ITC granted this status to Channel Three News in May after assessing that it had enough resources, was properly equipped and "adequately financed".

The BBC's Greg Wood
"Whatever the outcome, ITN faces a difficult future"
The BBC's Torin Douglas
"ITN is likely to have to cut its costs"
See also:

31 Jul 01 | TV and Radio
ITN's global expansion
13 Jun 01 | Business
ITV to seek bids from news providers
23 Jan 01 | Entertainment
Sky battles ITN for news contract
25 Apr 01 | Business
Will ITV website capture the net?
01 Aug 00 | UK
ITN joins all-news battle
30 Jul 00 | Business
BSkyB eyes ITV news deal
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