UK Media Regulator Reviews ITV Licences

01 July 2004

Media regulator Ofcom is investigating whether the UK's largest commercial free-to-air television network ITV is paying the government too much in licence fees.

The network, which comprises fifteen regional stations and the breakfast TV operation GMTV, pays millions of pounds a year for permission to broadcast.

ITV which controls 11 of the regional licences and has a 75% stake in GMTV has most to gain from Ofcom's review of the commercial terrestrial TV sector.

Annual fees are around £200 million ($362m; €298m) and the network argues that the present system is unfair, primarily because the television landscape has changed dramatically since the last review of franchises in 1991.

An added grievance is that channel Five is the only other UK network to pay the levy. State broadcaster BBC and commercial channel Channel 4 are exempt, as is Europe's largest satellite operator, NewsCorp-controlled BSkyB.

Ofcom says the review is designed to reflect market changes such as the impending move from analogue to digital broadcasting and simplify the whole licensing structure.

The regulator, which is inviting comments from the licence holders and the industry at large, is due to give its decision in September.

The review precedes the next franchise round which begins in December.

Data sourced from:; additional content by WARC staff