Eleventh-Hour Talks Seek ITV Digital Rescue

15 April 2002

The interested parties in failed British dTV venture ITV Digital are engaged in last-minute negotiations to try to provide some sort of future for the service as its cash runs out.

Deloitte & Touche, the platform’s administrator, is due today (Monday) to hold further talks with the Football League (the three soccer divisions below the elite Premier League), which is owed £178.5 million (€291.4m; $256.4m) by ITVd for the next two years’ broadcast rights.

The struggling digital operator insists it must renegotiate this deal to survive. Its first offer of £50m was rejected outright last month, with a second proposal of £60m dismissed as “derisory” by the League on Friday.

The football body is determined to get the initial payment of £89.25m due over the summer before negotiating on the second payment. Both parties are due before the High Court today to give a progress update.

ITV Digital’s owners, Granada Media and Carlton Communications, have only provided D&T with enough cash to keep the platform afloat until today. The administrator hopes to convince the duo to put in more money to keep ITVd going until a new offer to the League can be voted on by soccer club chairmen on Thursday.

The two sides have been jostling for position over the weekend. Carlton and Granada have written to the High Court asking for confirmation that they are not liable for ITVd’s debt to the League (which claims they are), while the League has called on the government to strip the media duo of their ‘digital dividend’, a tax break for dTV broadcasters worth far more than the £178.5m in dispute.

Granada and Carlton are expected to agree to keep the service going a little longer to see if it can be successfully restructured, staving off (for now) the widely anticipated liquidation of the platform.

Data sourced from: MediaGuardian.co.uk; Independent.co.uk; additional content by WARC staff