LONDON — ITV has decided to stay with ITN, naming it the preferred bidder for the web’s next news contract.
The decision leaves Channel 3 News — a rival consortium set up by satcaster BSkyB, CBS and U.K. programming producer Chrysalis to wrest the contract away from ITN — out in the cold.
ITV and ITN, which supplies news to ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5, will enter virtually rubber-stamped exclusive negotiations for the contract, which will run from January 2003 for an as-yet undetermined period.
The previous contract was for five years; ITN has supplied ITV with news for 46 years.
It is believed that ITN offered to cut its annual bill to ITV to £36 million ($53 million) from the current $65 million. Channel 3 News’ bid may have been even lower, at $47 million.
The two big ITV companies, Carlton Communications and Granada Media, each hold 20% stakes in ITN. Carlton and Granada also co-own ITV Digital, the rival to BSkyB’s Sky Digital platform.
ITV is the U.K.’s biggest commercial web, and losing the contract would have severely hurt ITN.
ITN chief exec Stewart Purvis said: “We believe … this reflects the quality of our news provision and the value for money of the ITN tender.”
News Corp.-controlled BSkyB bid for the ITV contract in 1996. In 1997, it unsuccessfully tried for Channel 4, and for Channel 5 in 1999.