BSkyB Consortium Throws Down TV News Gauntlet

01 August 2001

As predicted [WAMN: 14-Jun-01], Independent Television News, the monopolist incumbent on the supply of news to Britain’s ITV network since its launch in 1955, faces a challenge for the first time in its forty-six year history.

Throwing down the gauntlet is Channel Three News, a consortium led by Rupert Murdoch's BSkyB along with two US news providers: broadcaster CBS and financial specialist Bloomberg.

The only other runner in a two horse race, C3N lodged its formal bid yesterday. Says consortium chairman Richard Huntingford confidently: “This proposal is a winner. It offers a radical approach that will allow ITV to beat the BBC in the news ratings war.”

Although the value of both bids is firmly under the wraps, analysts predict that the new contract which runs from 2002 will cost ITV at least £10 million less than the current figure – thought to be in the region of £45m annually.

The choice between ITN and C3N will be decided by ITV’s controlling duo, Granada Media and Carlton Communications – who also hold the reins at ITN. Despite this apparent monism, Granada and Carlton refute all suggestions of bias and promise a fair contest.

However, a C3N victory seems unlikely for a variety of reasons, not least the political ramifications of awarding the ITV news contract to any organisation in which Rupert Murdoch is prominently involved – for example his 37% controlling stake in BSkyB.

News source: Financial Times