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Independent moves

ITV plans Nov. sat launch without BSkyB

LONDON — ITV is planning to launch on satellite independently of satcaster BSkyB.

Move, skedded for November, will allow the U.K.’s biggest commercial web to reach Britain’s 5.5 million satellite homes without a carriage deal with BSkyB.

The satcaster is said to be asking £20 million ($29 million) per year to take ITV1 and ITV2, four times what ITV is willing to pay.

Negotiating tactic?

But BSkyB maintains that the notion of ITV going it alone is little more than a negotiating tactic.

Not being part of BSkyB’s platform could be problematic for ITV: If it broadcasts directly from the Astra satellite system, its signal would become available across northern Europe, meaning that its programming supply contracts would have to be re-negotiated.

ITV may also become lost on the outer reaches of the electronic program guide. What’s more, viewers would likely be confused as the 15 ITV1 regional feeds would all have their own channels.

Conversely, there is a blank space waiting to be filled at coveted position No. 3 — right after BBC1 and BBC2 — on BSkyB’s Sky Digital platform.

ITV has withheld its channels from the platform in a bid to boost the fortunes of ITV Digital, the pay terrestrial platform co-owned by Carlton Communications and Granada Media, the two big ITV companies.

Not being part of BSkyB’s offering has adversely affected ITV’s viewing share.

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