ITV in $145 mil Euro sat pact, BSkyB talks

Ten-year pact provides capacity for 16 regional feeds

LONDON — The ITV network has committed itself to satellite broadcasting in a £100 million ($145 million) capacity deal with Societe Europeenne des Satellites, the group behind the Astra satellites, and a renewal of carriage talks with satcaster BSkyB.

ITV and ITV2 should be available on BSkyB’s SkyDigital platform by the end of the year. Carlton Communications and Granada Media, the two big ITV companies, have been withholding the channels in a bid to boost ONdigital, their joint-venture rival to BSkyB.

The 10-year deal with Astra gives ITV capacity for its 16 regional feeds (the bulk of ITV’s programming is the same across the services), and other ITV satellite webs are in the pipeline. ITV is mandated to provide regional programming by the government.

Accessing SkyDigital’s 5 million subs will reduce the $650 million ITV pays each year for its licenses, because it does not have to pay for digital viewers. That will help offset the reported $35 million BSkyB is asking to broadcast ITV and ITV2.

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