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Thursday, 4 July, 2002, 11:27 GMT 12:27 UK
Football League cheers ITV failure
The collapse of ITV Digital will severely affect Nationwide clubs
ITV Digital has now gone off air
The Football League has welcomed ITV's failure to regain its digital terrestrial television licences which became available after the collapse of ITV Digital.

The BBC and transmission company Crown Castle have been successful instead, with the Independent Television Commission (ITC) selecting them ahead of a proposed link-up between ITV and Channel 4 and four other bids.

The League holds ITV partly responsible for the collapse of ITV Digital, which has left Nationwide clubs still owed 189.5m.

Court action against ITV Digital's owners Carlton Communications and Granada is due to start on 26 July.

League head of communications John Nagle said: "This decision will not directly affect the ongoing dispute between the Football League and Carlton and Granada.

"However, the Football League was extremely perturbed by the possibility that companies given licences to run a digital terrestrial service, only to close it down while still owing over 800m to suppliers including our clubs, should be given the opportunity to do so again.

"We are pleased that the ITC shares this view."

The League has regained the rights to Nationwide football and is still in negotiation with several broadcasters about screening league matches next season.

It is expected to make an announcement in the next three to four weeks.

The ITC said it considered a range of factors in coming to its decision, including proposals for implementing and improving coverage and the ability to establish and maintain the proposed service throughout the 12-year licence period.

The BBC bid was considered best-suited to fulfilling the requirements and promoting digital terrestrial television (DTT) by marketing strategies.

Sir Robin Biggam, chairman of the ITC, said: "The Commission believes that the BBC-Crown Castle application is the most likely to ensure the viability of digital terrestrial television.

"It will target those viewers who have not been so far attracted by digital TV and will help facilitate the move towards digital switchover."



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