ITV Digital finally crashes

ITV Digital, the UK pay-TV venture co-owned by media giants Carlton and Granada, has finally announced that it is has gone into administration. The straw that broke the camel’s back is said to be outstanding payments to The Football League, thought to be in excess of GBP180 million.

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By  Daniel Anderson-Ford Published  March 27, 2002

ITV Digital, the UK pay-TV venture co-owned by media giants Carlton and Granada, has finally announced that it is has gone into administration. The straw that broke the camel’s back is said to be outstanding payments to The Football League, thought to be in excess of GBP180 million.

ITV Digital has been losing subscribers rapidly since 2001, and the money invested last Summer in the broadcast rights for the UK Football League, said to be in the region of GBP315 million, has done nothing to stem the tide.

In total ITV Digital has invested GBP800 million in its services, with GBP300 million in revenue required to break even. The Football League is thought to have negotiated a deal involving a payment of GBP90 million now and a further GBP90 million at a later date. ITV Digital, however, has said that it can only pay GBP50 million.

The announcement also has serious ramifications for Football League clubs which have become dependent on television money for survival. The BBC reported on its website that six clubs may go into receivership as a result of ITV Digital’s failure to meet payments. Last week, Swindon Town joined cash-strapped clubs such as Queens Park Rangers and Bury in going into administration.

Co-owners Carlton and Granada are arguing that neither is liable for payments, while Football League chairman Keith Harris is arguing the opposite.

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