28 April 2002 In a bid to galvanise its far-reaching ambitions in the interactive TV market, Microsoft is putting together a consortium to take over the UK’s failed broadcast venture ITV Digital.
According to reports in the Observer and the Guardian newspapers, executives from the world’s largest software company spent the weekend in negotiations with other members of the consortium. Although details are sketchy, at least one telecoms infrastructure giant is at the negotiating table, with reports suggesting that BT could play a major role. Others considering an acquisition move include media giants Vivendi and Bertlesmann.
But Microsoft is the first technology company to show a keen interest in buying ITV Digital’s assets. The Observer reports that the company has sought detailed information from Deloitte &Touche, the administrators appointed after ITV Digital announced it was going bust earlier this month. Microsoft declined to comment on the reports.
The company has had mixed success in its efforts to capture early ground in the interactive TV market, where it intends to position itself as a major provider of operating system and user interface software to digital TV companies. As part of that strategy, Microsoft has taken significant stakes in cable TV companies Telewest and NTL.
Any decision on the future of ITV Digital should come within days, as, according to Deloitte &Touche, the company will run out of working capital early next week. In the House of Commons on Friday, the government’s Media Secretary of State, Tessa Jowell, suggested that “new players” were readying fresh proposals.