The deal struck earlier this week between Britain's ITV network and European satellite owner Société Européenne des Satellites [WAMN: 14-Mar-01] has re-opened the door to ITV’s stalled negotiations with BSkyB.

Ailing ITV is losing audience share not only to Rupert Murdoch’s Sky but also to ONdigital and the two main cable networks, NTL and Telewest. It is especially eager for its programme content also to be aired by Sky which dominates the digital satellite scene with nearly five million subscribers.

Although Sky viewers can easily switch from digital satellite to ITV’s terrestrial analogue network, research has established that an alarming number find it irksome to exercise their fingers. With one eye on its declining audience and the other on twitchy advertisers, ITV is anxious to make it easier for Sky’s 5m homes to watch its programmes.

But it may have to bite the bullet and pay the £20 million ($29m) annual fee Sky is reportedly demanding for that privilege.

News source: BBC Online Business News (UK)