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17/08/2001

UTV DECLINE OFFER FROM ITV SPORT

UTV DECLINE OFFER FROM ITV SPORT
UTV have declined an offer from ITV Sport for use of UTV’s digital television channel.
Rejecting the offer UTV claimed that ITV Sport had made a ‘derisory offer’ for the use of UTV’s channel bandwidth on the recently re-branded ITV Digital terrestrial service.
A spokesperson for UTV said: "ITV Sport has nothing whatsoever to do with UTV, nor is it part of the ITV network. The channel is owned by Granada and Carlton. If they wish to provide this channel in Northern Ireland there are several options open to them including the use of their own digital frequencies.
"It is ridiculous that viewers are being misled by ITV Sport into believing that UTV are stopping this channel being made available in Northern Ireland. This is not the case. It is the responsibility of ITV Sport to provide service to their paying customers.”
It is understood that ITV Sport initially told UTV that they were unsure how or indeed if they would transmit their service in Northern Ireland.
The spokesperson said: "If they still wish to use our digital frequency in Northern Ireland, we would be happy to do so once they make a reasonable commercial offer. Alternatively they could provide service immediately to viewers by using one of their own frequencies which are not being used and their customers need to be made aware of this fact.
"The use of ITV branding by Granada and Carlton is confusing for viewers who believe these channels have the backing of all ITV companies which is not the case. UTV is in dispute with Granada and Carlton over the re-branding of OnDigital as ITV Digital and the use of the ITV name in this sports channel.
"We had hoped to reach agreement with them over appropriate compensation for the use of the ITV brand in Northern Ireland for their own commercial interests and are currently considering our next course of action. As UTV has no shareholding in ITV Sport, it would be foolish to provide this or any other digital channel - in effect encouraging viewers to watch a rival channel - without adequate financial compensation."
The ITC say that they are aware of this issue, which may prompt an inquiry to establish if customers were being misled or if either party were in breach of ITC regulations. (CD)
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