ITN signs US broadcast agreement

ITN has signed a multi-million- dollar deal with NBC that will give the American broadcaster exclusive rights to broadcast ITN news items in the US.

The UK news organisation, which is jointly owned by the big independent television companies and Reuters, the news agency, hopes the agreement will be the first of six or seven such deals with broadcasters around the world.

ITN will have reciprocal access to NBC items on a similar one-off subscription basis. David Gordon, chief executive, stressed ITN would be a net beneficiary of the arrangement, although he refused to give any financial details.

NBC's use of ITN's material on a national basis is likely to be restricted to one or two items a month. However, the network's numerous local and specialist channels are expected to make frequent use of the service.

The agreement follows the BBC's decision, announced last year, to link up with NBC's rival, ABC, although that plan envisages a much more wide-ranging merger of news-gathering services.

The ITN/NBC deal will be on an exclusive basis from the end of 1994, blocking ABC's access to ITN's coverage. NBC will continue to have access to BBC news.

NBC, which is owned by General Electric, the US conglomerate, was a logical choice of US partner for ITN following the BBC/ABC link-up. ITN already has a contract to provide its World News programme for NBC's Super Channel, which reaches about 58 million homes in Europe.

The deal spells an end to the arrangement under which the international rights to ITN's material were handled by an agency, Worldwide Television News. WTN is 80 per cent owned by ABC, with the remaining shares split between ITN and Australia's Nine Network.