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31/08/2000

CHANNEL 4 FACES BIDDING WAR FOR 'BIG BROTHER'

CHANNEL 4 is expected to face stiff competition from rival channels over the second series of 'Big Brother'.
It is understood that ITV Director of Programmes David Liddiment is currently in discussions with Peter Bazalgette creative director of Endermol over acquiring the rights to broadcast a second series. He had originally turned down the show when offered it and regretted it. Liddiment is likely to face stiff competition from other broadcasters, several of whom have been surprised by its ratings success. Channel 4, which is in the midst of screening the current series, has an option of taking up a second series but has so far not signed a deal.
Liddiment is understood to have contacted Bazalgette with the view to purchasing the format for ITV.
After outbidding Channel 5 for the rights to broadcast the first run Channel 4 now has an option on the second series but has still not sealed a deal for it.
Endemol Entertainment, which owns the 'Big Brother' rights, and its subsidiary, Bazal, producer of the UK show, may prefer to keep the series on terrestrial TV to maintain the wider exposure, which in turn would drive up revenue.
'Big Brother' has turned in gigantic audiences for C4 some often as high as six million viewers. Consequently C4 has significantly increased the price it charges advertisers to advertise around the programme.
As well as C4 wishing to maintain its strong identification with 'Big Brother', its advertising department would benefit from its return. Because airtime sales rates are partly based on the channel's past performance, its current audience shares, which have been as high as 38 per cent and the desirable and younger audience the show attracts helps command more cash from advertisers.
Demand for space in the advertising breaks for the first series has also driven up airtime costs.
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