Channel 4 snubs Murdoch for news contract

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The Independent Online
ITN executives breathed a heavy sigh of relief yesterday when Channel 4 announced that it would be sticking with its news service. They were bracing themselves for major job losses if they had lost the business.

To retain the contract, the company - which is also news supplier to ITV and Channel 5 - undertook to supply Channel 4 with a half-hour programme on Saturday evenings rather than simply a short bulletin.

The decision not to put the contract out to tender is a blow for Rupert Murdoch's satellite service, BSkyB, which had been backing a rival bid by Mentorn, Barrowclough Carey, a leading independent producer.

Channel 4 stressed that the decision to stick with ITN had nothing to do with the current controversy surrounding Mr Murdoch's publishing house HarperCollins. "Sky was always going to be the junior partner and we always had our own timetable for taking this important decision," said a spokesman for the station.

ITN has produced Channel 4 News since the launch of Britain's fourth terrestrial network in 1982. The programme, hosted initially by Peter Sissons but long synonymous with anchorman Jon Snow, has won a number of international awards and accolades for its intelligent and analytic journalism.

Channel 4's chief executive, Michael Jackson, said yesterday: "Channel 4 is standing four-square behind its highly regarded news service."