YTT close to bid for Channel 5

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The Independent Online

Yorkshire-Tyne Tees, the ITV television company, yesterday moved a step closer to joining the bidding war for the new Channel 5 licence.

The company has signed a confidentiality agreement with broadcaster BSkyB and television production company Granada to discuss details of a joint bid for the licence, to be awarded later this year.

It is understood that TCI, the US cable giant, is also joining in the discussions. YTT, which has two ITV licences, will be held to a maximum of 20 per cent of the consortium.

BSkyB, which has taken the lead in developing the consortium, had been looking for additional programming strength in its bid to win the lucrative Channel 5 licence. YTT makes such hits as Heartbeat and has a large library.

YTT is 14 per cent-owned by Pearson, the media and information company, which is leading a competing consortium made up of the financial services and media company MAI and European broadcaster CLT.

The YTT board approved the confidentiality agreement yesterday and will meet again to decide on Channel 5.