As ITV continues to discuss a new contract for encryption and regionalisation services with BSkyB comes a report that ITV has held advanced talks with the BBC over launching a free-to-view satellite television service.
The Daily Telegraph said though talks with the BBC had not been concluded, plans for a new free satellite television service could be announced "within two months".
The BBC has long been looking at the possibility of launching a free satellite television service, but in order for it to be successful the service needs to have several attractive free-to-view channels.
Last month broadcasting campaign group the Voice of the Listener and Viewer (VLV) repeated its call for a free-to-view satellite service, and urged broadcasters to work with Ofcom and the Government to launch "an independent free-to-air digital satellite service along the lines of Freeview".
That followed news that ITV had dropped a complaint over the fees charged by BSkyB to encrypt and regionalise its programming for satellite viewers, and had gone back to the negotiation table. ITV is seeking a big cut in the £17m it is charged each year for encryption and regionalisation services. Sky has repeatedly denied allegations that the amount is unfair.
Meanwhile, ITV is expected to update investors on its plans for new digital channels when it unveils results on Wednesday.
Paul Richards, a media analyst at Numis Securities, told The Business newspaper: "In our view, ITV now has a coherent multichannel strategy which neatly segments the audience and is therefore well placed to pick up a sizeable proportion of the audiences lost by ITV1, albeit at lower cost per thousands when monetised into advertising."
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