Following tense last minute talks between British commercial TV regulator, the Independent Television Commission, and ITV Digital's administrator Deloitte & Touche, insiders say the director of 'The [Lack of] Forsyte Saga' is poised in the control room to cue a fadeout to black.
Despite the reported presence of six potential buyers scenting a bargain basement deal, controlling shareholders Carlton Communications and Granada Media are concerned at the cost of continuing to fund the ailing digital TV platform while buying negotiations continue.
As reported earlier this week [WAMN: 23-Apr-02], two of the six possible buyers are Stephen Grabiner, former chief executive of ITVd and now a venture capitalist with Apax Partners and ITVd’s current chief executive Stuart Prebble. Of the four remaining punters, one is rumoured to be the Football League – the soccer organisation whose intransigence over a massive broadcast rights deal brought ITVd to its knees.
But reportedly not one of the interested parties is willing to stump-up the estimated £340,000 ($494,000; €550,000) per day necessary to fund the platform during ‘accelerated’ sale negotiations – although the prime minister’s Policy Unit and other government sources are said to be leaning on Carlton and Granada to do just that. The Department of Culture, Media and Sport is also urging other free-to-air broadcasters, especially the BBC, to help keep digital terrestrial television afloat pending a rescue.
A joint statement from the ITC and Deloitte’s Nick Dargan is expected today. It is believed this will spell out the terms, conditions and timetable for the disposal of ITVd as a going concern.
Meantime, it has emerged that in the event of liquidation (on which the odds are said to be even), topping the list of preferred creditors will be two names not unfamiliar to WAMN readers – Carlton Communications and Granada Media, much of whose £1 billion investment in ITVd is in secured loans.
This will not create unalloyed delight among less privileged creditors such as BSkyB, which not only is the owner of ITVd’s headquarters building but is also owed money from carriage deals.
Data sourced from: Independent.co.uk, The Times (London) and BrandRepublic (UK); additional content by WARC staff