Carlton heads 30m pounds bid to rescue hard-up ITN

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The Independent Online
A pounds 30m RESCUE bid has been launched for Indepedent Television News, the financially troubled supplier of news programmes for Channel 4 and the Independent Television network.

The rescue was launched by a consortium led by Carlton Communications, which takes over the London weekday ITV licence in January. Its partners are two other ITV broadcasters, Central and LWT, and Reuters, the news and financial information group.

The pounds 30m would be used to provide a sound financial footing for ITN, now owned by all the ITV companies.

The news provider has been battered by trading losses, staff defections and the disastrous effects of a move two years ago to plush new offices on the edge of the City of London. The company has not been able to rent out even half the spare space in the building. It is losing pounds 5m- pounds 6m a year on the site.

ITN's relationship with the ITV companies was redefined by the 1990 Broadcasting Act, which required it to become an independent profit-making organisation. After paying, in some cases, huge sums to retain or win their licences, the ITV companies have been pressing ITN to cut costs and provide better value for money.

ITN's board meets on Monday to discuss the deal and approve an offer to the ITV network to provide news programmes for the next five years. It is understood to want ITV to pay around pounds 60m for its news next year, a slight increase on this year. It has already announced it will cut staff numbers from 750 to around 640.