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Wed 1 May 2002 04:00 AM

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ITV digital shuts down

UK digital platform stops transmission after 'insufficient interest' was shown by prospective purchasers.

ITV Digital, the troubled UK digital platform, ceased transmission at midnight last night. The decision to close the service ends Carlton and Granada's dream of becoming the UK's third pay-TV platform, leaves 1,500 staff out of work and up to 800,000 viewers without a pay TV service.A statement from the administrator Deloitte & Touche said they would be “closing the pay television operation of the company following insufficient interest from prospective purchasers.” The move will spell the end for ITV Digital - last week the ITC confirmed that once pay TV services such as Sky One, Sky Premier, Sky Sports and E4 and MTV cease broadcasting on the DTT platform it will suspend the licence and offer it out to tender. The ITC is to issue an invitation to apply for the three digital multiplexes vacated by ITV Digital tomorrow - the tendering process is expected to take six weeks. 900 staff at ITV Digital's call centre in Wales plus staff at ITV Digital's central London HQ are expected to be made redundant. The platform's demise is expected to be a boon for rival pay TV operators such as Sky, NTL and Telewest, which are anticipating a surge in disenfranchised subscribers from the DTT operation. The closure and break up of ITV Digital comes just days after debt-ridden Spanish DTT service Quiero TV handed back its multiplex. Like ITV Digital Quiero failed to establish a foothold in the pay TV market.

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