United eyes U.K. digital

LONDON — U.K. media group United News & Media has announced a conditional agreement with British communications company NTL for a 30% share of Digital Terrestrial Television (DTN), one of the two bidders for the license to broadcast digital terrestrial TV services in Britain.

Should DTN win the license, United would invest up to $195 million in the net over a four-year period. The remaining 70% of DTN would remain with NTL, which is parented by the U.S.-based Cabletel.

United owns the ITV network companies Meridian and Anglia, as well as 29% of Channel 5, the U.K.’s new terrestrial.British Digital Broadcasting — a joint venture between satcaster BSkyB and the two biggest ITV companies, Carlton and Granada — is also bidding for the digital terrestrial license and is considered by many observers to be far and away the frontrunner.

United has disclosed, however, that it had included a confidential letter in the original DTN bid indicating it would supply programming should DTN win the license. A decision from the ITC is expected early June.

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