Carlton lays plans for cable

Carlton Communications is planning a big push into cable and satellite broadcasting and overseas television. Already the largest supplier to the ITV network, the company intends to take advantage of new government rules on media ownership that allow it to own 100 per cent of cable and satellite channels, up from 20 per cent before.

Michael Green, chairman, said yesterday: "The multiplicity of entertainment channels that will be available to viewers with the expansion of broadcast, satellite and cable systems means that demand for programme material will grow substantially. We intend to be a major owner and supplier of copyright television material."

A spokesman confirmed that the company had been talking to European media groups about possible joint ventures, but refused to rule out doing a deal with Rupert Murdoch's empire, which effectively controls a large part of UK satellite broadcasting.

As well as satellite, "there are well over 1 million cable subscribers and you have got the prospect of digital terrestrial TV", the spokesman said. "There are a range of options and we don't want to be tied to any particular one thing."

The company's ownership of the franchises for London weekday television and Central allowed it to raise pre-tax profits 30 per cent to pounds 247m in the year to September. Stripping out a pounds 7m loss on disposals, profits rose 39 per cent. The dividend goes up 14 per cent to 23.6p.

Investment Column, page 26

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