Carlton to strike for TV football
The Premier League is looking to tie up a deal by May, a year before BSkyB's exclusive pounds 670m contract expires. The combined firepower of Carlton and United News, whose merger will create Britain's largest commercial broadcaster worth pounds 7bn, would facilitate a bid worth well over pounds 1bn for a four-year contract.
Carlton was one of the under-bidders the last time the rights were up for grabs, although the company has maintained that the value of its offer was superior to BSkyB's.
However, both Carlton and United News will be unable to act until the Office of Fair Trading concludes its review of commercial broadcasting. Under current regulatory rules, their merger would be blocked on the grounds that the combined company would command too much on-air advertising. However, the OFT is expected to relax these rules.
BSkyB is already thought to have sounded out a number of Premier League chairmen with a proposal to pay the equivalent of pounds 1bn for the next four years. NTL and Cable & Wireless Communications, the cable companies whose merger has been referred to the Competition Commission, are also expected to bid.
But British Telecommunications has denied reports that it is willing to pay pounds 1.3bn for the rights.
In fact, the next deal is likely to be shorter than BSkyB's current four- year agreement . It is also considered unlikely that one bidder will pick up the exclusive rights to live games in the way that BSkyB did.
A spokesman for the Premier League, said: "We are still at the very early stages of the process. We have not begun negotiations or received bids and will not do so until we are ready."
A head-to-head for football rights between BSkyB and Carlton and United News would add spice to the ongoing feud between the two broadcasting blocs. BSkyB has complained to the OFT about the implication of the proposed merger, which would create a company owning eight regional ITV franchises, 29 per cent of Channel 5, 50 per cent of ONdigital and three national newspapers.
Granada, currently the biggest ITV broadcaster, has also complained to the OFT.
However, there were signs of a rapprochement between Granada and Carlton yesterday when the two announced they were going into a venture to set up a British version of Ask Jeeves, the American internet search engine.
They are paying pounds 20m each for a 50 per cent stake, valuing the venture at pounds 80m.
Uniquely, Ask Jeeves enables users to request their searches in plain English using a simple question and answer format. Its US site already attracts 650,000 British visitors each month.
TV'S SLAM DUNK, PAGE 4
Britain First criticised for using actress's memory to draw attention to their 'hate-filled home page'
Emergency call 'started off dumb, but got pretty serious'
Greatest mystery about the hit BBC1 show is how it continues to be made at all, writes Grace Dent
"History is violent," says the US Army tank commander Don "Wardaddy" Collier
- 1 This 'woman calls police to order pizza' story isn't going where you're expecting
- 2 Axe wielding man shot dead after attacking four New York policemen on busy street
- 3 Watch what happened when food critics were unknowingly served McDonald's
- 4 Jimmy Carr's Oscar Pistorius joke goes a bit too far at the Q Awards
- 5 Ottawa shootings: Bruce MacKinnon's cartoon is the perfect tribute to soldier Nathan Cirillo
Renee Zellweger on plastic surgery rumours: 'I'm living a more fulfilling life and I'm thrilled that perhaps it shows'
This 'woman calls police to order pizza' story isn't going where you're expecting
FCKH8: YouTube reinstates provocative anti-sexism video showing young girls swearing
Axe wielding man shot dead after attacking four New York policemen on busy street
Diwali: What is the festival of lights – and how is it celebrated around the world?
Of course, teenage girls need role models – but not like beauty vlogger Zoella
Cameron is warned 'no possibility' of UK reducing immigration and that bid to bring in quota on migrant workers would be illegal
Support for EU membership 'at highest level since 1991' with most Brits wanting to stay 'in'
Thousands with degenerative conditions classified as 'fit to work in future' – despite no possibility of improvement
Residents should throw a street party and mix with immigrant neighbours, councils told
Attacks on 'Ukip Calypso' show how skewed people’s priorities are
iJobs Money & Business
£60000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Compensation and Benefits Manager - Compensat...
£30000 - £35000 Per Annum plus excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions...
£24000 - £28000 per annum + bonus & benefits: Ashdown Group: IT Business Syste...
£50000 - £90000 per annum + benefits: Ampersand Consulting LLP: Markit EDM (CA...