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The Bell Tolls for ITV Digital

By: Rob Sedgwick
Date: 30/04/2002

ITV DIGITAL are to switch off their pay-TV channels at 7am on Wednesday morning, and the firm is set for liquidation, the administrators of the troubled broadcaster have confirmed.

The move comes after insufficient interest from prospective purchasers to justify continuing screening had been shown.

The firm's broadcast licence will be handed back to the Independent Television Commission (ITC). Meanwhile ITV will have to find another slot on their network to televise the Football League play-off matches, which take place over the coming two weeks, in order to avoid being in breach of their contract for this season as a whole.

The administrators, who had hoped that a buyer would come forward to take over the troubled company, said "strenuous efforts" to cut costs had failed, while prospective purchasers, rumoured to include Microsoft and Sky, had shown "insufficient interest... to justify a continuation of the operation."

The ITC hopes to find a new broadcaster within six weeks to take over ITV Digital's broadcast frequencies. Applicants have two weeks to express an interest, and a further two weeks to submit their application.

Meanwhile the issue of compensation for the Football League clubs, who are owed £178.5m by the parent companies (Carlton and Granada) of an organisation, which was in effect part of the ITV network, looks set to continue, although the league are now free to start negotiations with another company for the rights to show their games over the next two years.

All that the ordinary fan can do to register their dissatisfaction with the ITV companies is to vote with their feet and not to watch any of their stations, until a fair deal is reached that may help to avoid some the nation's smaller football clubs disappearing from the landscape.

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