Magazine article Variety

Time Is Ripe for a U.S. Takeover of U.K.'S ITV

Magazine article Variety

Time Is Ripe for a U.S. Takeover of U.K.'S ITV

Article excerpt

Media mavens in blighty are buzzing at the prospect that the U.K.'s biggest broadcaster, ITV, may end up in U.S. hands as a rush of consolidation reshapes the British media landscape.

All year, U.S. media giants have been splashing cash on U.K. TV assets. Viacom scooped up broadcaster Channel 5 in a $757 million deal that surprised media watchers on both sides of the Pond. Meanwhile ITV itself has been on a buying spree of indie U.S. production companies including Leftfield Entertainment, home of "Pawn Stars."

As tech companies like Amazon and Netflix increasingly compete head-on with TV networks for content, there is growing speculation that ITV will be bought by a big U.S. media firm looking to bolster its own content assets.

In July, John Malone's Liberty Global paid $824 million for the 6.4% stake in ITV owned by BSkyB. Liberty Global partnered with Discovery earlier this year in the $930 million deal to buy A113Media, whose shows include "Undercover Boss."

At a recent conference call to discuss second-quarter earnings, ITV CEO Adam Crozier played down the idea of a U.S. takeover, but he did acknowledge the circumstances were right, citing the hunger among U.S. companies for international growth, tax advantages and low-debt financing costs.

"All of those reasons are combining to drive an industry to convergence," Crozier said.

Discovery Communications is seen as a likely suitor for ITV, which is valued at upwards of $16 billion.

Viacom's decision to enter the U. …

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