ITC softens ban on cable TV firms' deals

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The Independent Online
CABLE TELEVISION companies won a reprieve yesterday as the Independent Television Commission (ITC) watered down its proposals to stop them selling up to 40 channels at once in a "bundle", writes Andrew Verity.

The television regulator said it would ban deals which guaranteed that new customers were forced to buy a bundle of channels when signing up to a cable company. But it backed down on a crucial plan to extend the ban to existing deals.

The concession removes the threat of legal action against the ITC by Channel One and Live TV, two of the biggest broadcasters on cable, who complained a complete ban could put them out of business.

Richard Horwood, of Live TV, said: "This is great news for us and we are delighted. We now have contracts with pretty much all of the cable industry requiring them to distribute Live TV to 100 per cent of their viewers until 2005."

Some television companies are expected to take the ITC to a judicial review on the grounds that the regulator is exceeding its powers.

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