ITV Digital in administration


British pay-TV broadcaster ITV Digital sought protection from its creditors yesterday, calling in administrators to run the business after failing to renegotiate its contracts with the English Football League.

Cash-strapped ITV Digital's move, approved by the London High Court, could spell the end of the company and stop the drain on cash for its owners Carlton and Granada - but its 1.26 million customers could be up for grabs.

The move could play into the hands of the country's dominant pay-TV operation, Mr Rupert Murdoch's satellite service BSkyB, but it throws into doubt the future of some of the league's smaller teams. It could also upset Britain's plan to be the world's first fully digital TV nation.

ITV Digital now has some breathing space to make a last attempt to reach a deal with the league and stressed that in the meantime it would continue broadcasting to its viewers. "Our objective here is to create a viable future for the business, and not go into closure," said ITV Digital spokesman Mr Andrew Marre. ITV Digital's administrators, Deloitte & Touche, must report to the court on progress on April 15th. If the crisis is not resolved by then, the business could be liquidated or sold. - (Reuters)