Carlton, TF1 in e-venture talks

B'casters launching @lliance with $100 mil investment

LONDON — Carlton Communications and TF1, the leading commercial broadcasters in the U.K. and France, respectively, are in exclusive talks to launch an Internet partnership.

The joint venture, dubbed @lliance, will have $100 million to invest in online businesses, which Carlton and TF1 will then promote and distribute using their TV, advertising and publishing arms.

E-expansion

The aim is to acquire and develop sports, entertainment and other interactive rights, and to move into e-commerce.

The companies will exchange technical expertise and will collaborate on their existing Internet ventures. Carlton already has Web sites devoted to games, films and food. It recently bought 20% of PeopleBank, an online job exchange, and 25% of AskJeeves U.K.

TF1 has several commerce and information sites, as well as a 13% stake in the Internet service provider World On Line France.

Carlton chairman Michael Green said, “Carlton and TF1 have similar businesses and share a common vision. We believe in combining free and pay TV platforms, and using them to build strong businesses in new media.”

‘Extraordinary opportunities’

TF1 chairman Patrick LeLay said, “The Internet opens extraordinary opportunities for development in Europe.”

Carlton, the biggest broadcaster in the U.K.’s ITV network, recently announced plans to merge with fellow ITV player United News & Media. Between them, Carlton, United and TF1 reach 40 million homes and generate more than $3 billion in advertising revenues from free TV.

Carlton is also a partner in pay TV platform ONdigital, while TF1 is the driving force between Gallic pay TV venture TPS, as well as Eurosport.

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