London -- Viacom Inc. chairman Sumner Redstone has ruled out an immediate big
for the U.K.'s largest commercial broadcaster, the ITV.
But he praised British regulators for their plans to open up the market to
foreign investors and he refused to rule out a bid in the future, noting that
the ITV would offer a promising opportunity to the right media company.
'We continue to be intrigued, but we have no plans for an acquisition of
ITV-or any other U.K. broadcast asset-at the moment,' Redstone stated during a
speech at the Royal Television Society in London.
'But we will continue to monitor developments very closely. So, as they say
in our business-stay tuned.'
Viacom already owns a large bouquet of cable and satellite channels in the
U.K. under the MTV, Nickelodeon and VH1 brands.
A deal for ITV could offer its opportunities to share programming or cross
promote services, much as Disney already does with its investment in terrestrial
broadcaster GMTV and its various digital cable and satellite channels.
According to The Daily Telegraph, Redstone also noted that 'We are
interested in expanding our international businessses and the UK is one of the
most attractive markets, given the strength of our existing operations here. The
opportunity has not yet passed us by.'
However, newspaper also reported that Mr. Redstone added, 'It would have to
be accretive and return dollars to our shareholders from day one.'
Redstone also had a private meeting with prime minister Tony Blair in which
Redstone praised the governments upcoming plans to open up the U.K. television
industry to foreign investment.
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