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Tuesday, 23 January, 2001, 19:03 GMT
Sky battles ITN for news contract
Sir Trevor McDonald
ITN provides news for ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5
BSkyB is joining forces with four other media companies, including the American broadcaster CBS, to challenge ITN for the contract to supply news to ITV.

The satellite broadcaster and CBS will join Ulster Television, Bloomberg and the Chrysalis group to challenge ITN.


We understand that ITV would welcome such competition

Consortium spokesman

Each of the five partners will take a 20% stake in the company which will eventually bid for the contract.

The announcement of the bid comes on the day ITN scored a victory over the BBC with the re-launch of its News At Ten bulletin.

The BBC's media correspondent Nick Higham told BBC News 24: "The new consortium is promising what it calls a fresh and innovative look at the way news is produced and presented on ITV, and a service which will be 'very good value for money', though not necessarily cheaper than ITN."

The consortium said it was approaching the Independent Television Commission, which regulates ITV, as a first step towards becoming a so-called nominated news provider.

Contract

It would also be seeking a meeting with ITV executives.

ITN's contract with ITV runs until the end of 2002. It has provided news to the channel since it was launched in 1955.

ITN News Channel launch
The ITN News Channel launched last year
ITN also provides news for Channel 4, GMTV, and Channel 5 as well as supplying UK news and facilities to Reuters.

It also runs Independent Radio News and the recently-launched ITN News Channel.

Sky has expressed an interest in bidding for the contract over the last few months.

A spokesman for the as-yet-unnamed consortium said: "Our group believes there should be a strong element of healthy competition when the next ITV news supply contract is decided.

"Indeed we understand that ITV would welcome such competition.

"The members of the consortium believe that their partnership will provide an extremely effective basis for mounting a challenge for the ITV news supply."

'Rag-bag'


Sky have been touting around for potential partners for months - it's a rag-bag partnership crafted from desperation

ITN spokesman
But an ITN spokesman hit back, saying: "Sky have been touting around for potential partners for months.

"After all their efforts they've ended up with two tiny UK broadcasters and two cost-cutting American operators. It's a rag-bag partnership crafted from desperation."

He added it was "ironic" the coalition was announced the day after News At Ten's ratings triumph against the BBC.

More than eight million people tuned into ITV's relaunched News At Ten bulletin on Monday, according to unofficial overnight figures - almost twice as many as viewers as those who watched the BBC's bulletin in the same slot.

ITN is owned by Granada Media, Carlton Communications, United Business Media, Daily Mail & General Trust and Reuters Group.

Carlton and Granada, which own most of ITV's franchises between them, are keen for a change in ownership to allow them a greater stake in ITN than the 20% each which is presently allowed.

See also:

23 Jan 01 | Entertainment
First blood to ITV in news battle
23 Jan 01 | Entertainment
Duel at Ten for news bulletins
10 Jan 01 | Entertainment
News At Ten returns to ITV
18 Jan 01 | Entertainment
BBC wants 'broader' news
20 Jan 01 | Entertainment
Battle of the bulletins
19 Nov 00 | UK Politics
BBC warned over 10pm news slot
03 Oct 00 | UK
BBC news move 'senseless'
14 Nov 00 | UK
News At Ten rethink urged
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