Sky adds HTV to list of backers for ITN challenge

MATHEW HORSMAN

Media Editor

HTV, one of the media sector's hottest takeover candidates, is backing a bid by Rupert Murdoch's BSkyB to supply news to ITV in competition with Independent Television News.

The news emerged as the company revealed sharply higher profits for 1995 and predicted further gains in 1996.

Chris Rowlands, HTV chief executive, said: "We have an agreement in principle to support Sky's application to be a nominated news provider".

The other partners in the joint venture are ITV companies Yorkshire-Tyne Tees, Meridian and Anglia, as well as the financial information company Reuters, a shareholder in ITN. The group is expected to underbid ITN for the contract to supply news to ITV. Reuters currently has a "non-compete" clause with ITN but its lawyers are believed to have argued it is not enforceable.

BSkyB is expected to lodge its application in coming weeks. It has promised to reduce the annual cost to ITV for its news services to about pounds 30m, from the current pounds 55m paid to ITN.

Meanwhile, HTV's pre-tax profits climbed 66 per cent to pounds 12.1m, on revenues ahead 11 per cent to pounds 135m, in line with expectations. The company revealed it spent pounds 300,000 on its unsuccessful bid for the Channel 5 licence, as part of the Virgin consortium.

HTV is considered a potential bid target for Carlton Communications, Michael Green's media company, which last week abandoned a possible bid for MAI, Lord Hollick's media and financial services group.

The core broadcasting business, which includes the ITV licences for the West and Wales, had turnover of pounds 104m. The newly named Harvest Entertainment division, which takes in film, TV production and programme rights, posted revenues of pounds 30.8m. Harvest's contribution to profits increased from 30 per cent to about 37 per cent year on year.

Louis Sherwood, the chairman, said the growing importance of production and rights acquisition has helped transformed HTV into a "medium-sized media company, not just an ITV licence franchisee like some of the others."

Through its Patridge Films and First Independent brands, HTV is a major supplier of wildlife and childrens programming to a range of UK and overseas broadcasters.

The company continued to push costs down in 1995, partly by squeezing margins at independent suppliers as part of what Mr Sherwood described as "getting value for money."

Advertising revenues were slightly down year on year, partly because two major advertisers, Boot's and Gillette, dropped HTV from their list of broadcast outlets. Gillette has since returned to HTV, while Boot's has plans to do so soon.

Mr Rowlands said he was optimistic that the company's licence payment to the Treasury, which totaled pounds 23.3m last year, would be reduced following discussions with the Independent Television Commission. Several ITV companies tabled very high financial bids to win their franchises in the last licencing round in 1992, and these could be renegotiated starting later this year.

Analysts expect that HTV could see its net payments to Treasury decline substantially from 1997 on. That could be offset by a drop in the levy paid to ITV by Channel 4.

Investment Column, page 18

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
peopleStella McCartney apologises over controversial Instagram picture
Voices
voices
Arts and Entertainment
Hayley Williams performs with Paramore in New York
musicParamore singer says 'Steal Your Girl' is itself stolen from a New Found Glory hit
Sport
Ronaldinho signs the t-shirt of a pitch invader
footballProof they are getting bolder
News
William Hague
people... when he called Hague the county's greatest
Extras
indybestKeep extra warm this year with our 10 best bedspreads
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
people
Voices
voicesBy the man who has
News
people... and stop them from attacking people
Arts and Entertainment
Ed Sheeran performs at his Amazon Front Row event on Tuesday 30 September
musicHe spotted PM at private gig
Sport
Arsene Wenger tried to sign Eden Hazard
footballAfter 18 years with Arsenal, here are 18 things he has still never done as the Gunners' manager
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Birmingham - Real Staffing

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Real Staffing are currently lo...

Trust Accountant - Kent

NEGOTIABLE: Austen Lloyd: TRUST ACCOUNTANT - KENTIf you are a Chartered Accou...

Graduate Recruitment Consultant - 2013/14 Grads - No Exp Needed

£18000 - £20000 per annum + OTE £30000: SThree: SThree are a global FTSE 250 b...

Law Costs

Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: CITY - Law Costs Draftsperson - NICHE...

Day In a Page

Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
The magic of roundabouts

Lords of the rings

Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
Why do we like making lists?

Notes to self: Why do we like making lists?

Well it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
Hong Kong protests: A good time to open a new restaurant?

A good time to open a new restaurant in Hong Kong?

As pro-democracy demonstrators hold firm, chef Rowley Leigh, who's in the city to open a new restaurant, says you couldn't hope to meet a nicer bunch
Paris Fashion Week: Karl Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'

Paris Fashion Week

Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'
Bruce Chatwin's Wales: One of the finest one-day walks in Britain

Simon Calder discovers Bruce Chatwin's Wales

One of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
10 best children's nightwear

10 best children's nightwear

Make sure the kids stay cosy on cooler autumn nights in this selection of pjs, onesies and nighties
Manchester City vs Roma: Five things we learnt from City’s draw at the Etihad

Manchester City vs Roma

Five things we learnt from City’s Champions League draw at the Etihad
Martin Hardy: Mike Ashley must act now and end the Alan Pardew reign

Trouble on the Tyne

Ashley must act now and end Pardew's reign at Newcastle, says Martin Hardy
Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?