Letter: Amazing decision to reject Channel 5 bid

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The Independent Online
Sir: The Independent Television Commission's decision not to award the licence for the proposed Channel 5 to the sole bidder - a consortium of Thames Television and FiveTV Ltd - is amazing ('Channel 5 on hold as Thames bid fails', 19 December).

Its quoted reasons are: 1) the questioning of our business plan; and 2) the doubting of our investor commitment.

Of course, I am an interested party as the vice-chairman of FiveTV, but let me briefly answer these two points.

Three years ago I brought in City TV of Toronto and its originator, Moses Znaimer, as our partners in FiveTV. It was his formula on which a large part of our application was based. Today City TV is the No 1 station in a 40-station market and is an increasingly profitable broadcaster even in these very difficult times.

Second, we told the ITC that we had Thames Television (majority owned by EMI) and Time Warner (the world's largest entertainment company) with a combined commitment of more than 70 per cent. Our merchant bankers had indicated that the remaining money was available, including strong interest from America's CapCity/ ABC network and other major names.

We had a plan to give Britain a different, city-based television service, which both advertisers and many members of the public wanted. I believe city-based broadcasting will come and we intend to continue to campaign for it.

Last year the Radio Authority, in awarding Classic FM its licence, allowed a period after the award for Classic FM to finalise its financial backing. Why weren't we?

Yours etc,

RICHARD PRICE

Vice-chairman, FiveTV Ltd

London, NW1

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