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Last Updated: Friday, 17 November 2006, 08:05 GMT
RTL 'planning 5bn bid for ITV'
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ITV is home to the hit show X Factor
German-owned broadcaster RTL is planning a possible 5bn ($9.4bn) bid for the UK's main commercial TV firm ITV, according to a press report.

RTL's possible bid for ITV could trump cable group NTL, which confirmed last week that it is interested in merging with ITV, said the Financial Times.

It added that RTL would most likely have to sell its current UK TV business - Five - to secure regulatory backing.

Both RTL and ITV have declined to comment on the report.

'More sense'

RTL, Europe's largest broadcaster, is owned by German media firm Bertelsmann.

RTL is in my mind a more credible bidder
Analyst Paul Richards

Its broadcasting interests include 34 television and 33 radio stations in 11 countries.

Analysts said a tie-up between RTL and ITV would make more sense than a merger between the latter and NTL.

"Strategically, RTL plus ITV makes an awful lot more sense that ITV and NTL," said Numis analyst Paul Richards.

"RTL is an established free-to-air broadcaster on a pan-European basis.

"I'm not saying there are huge synergies...but RTL is in my mind a more credible bidder."

Weak advertising revenues

ITV, which has been hit by declining advertising, is currently in the process of drawing up a shortlist of possible candidates to take over as its new chief executive.

The broadcaster was a bid target earlier this year, but former chief executive Charles Allen rejected an approach from a consortium of private equity firms.

NTL is the dominant provider of cable TV services in the UK, having merged with Telewest.

Sir Richard Branson is NTL's biggest shareholder, after its 960m acquisition of Virgin Mobile.

NTL reveals ITV merger interest
09 Nov 06 |  Business
European TV giant buys out Five
20 Jul 05 |  Entertainment

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