UKTV to challenge Channel 5 decision

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The Independent Online

Media Editor

UKTV, the failed high bidder for Channel 5, was yesterday considering a fresh challenge to the controversial licence award, informed sources said.

It is believed the consortium, backed by the Canadian broadcaster CanWest, has reviewed documents and affadavits submitted to the High Court in advance of a separate challenge on the Channel 5 award mounted by Virgin TV, another failed bidder.

UKTV is to decide, after consultation with lawyers, whether the information might be used to mount new legal action. An attempt late last year to win leave for judicial review was denied by the High Court.

The fresh information is believed to centre on two issues: programming quality; and procedural unfairness. Virgin TV won its right to judicial review primarily on the issue of unfairness, and its case will be heard on 17 January. Both UKTV and New Century, a third failed bidder, have access to the documents and affadavits presented to the High Court.

These are believed to include copies of correspondence between the winning bidder, Channel 5 Broadcasting, and the Independent Television Commission, which show that the winning bidder was given two chances to clarify its funding arrangements.