Channel 3 News denies setting out to undercut ITN

Pollard: C3 has "radical new ideas"

Concerns about the future of news on commercial television have been raised after ITN and the Channel 3 consortium submitted their bids to win the contract to supply ITV.

Channel 3 News, backed by BSkyB, UTV, CBS, Chrysalis and Bloomberg, is the first company to bid for the contract, held by ITN since 1955.

Channel 3 News has promised "radical new ideas" which it claims will "allow ITV to beat the BBC in the news ratings war". They include changes in the news agenda and closer working links with regional newsrooms. Sky’s head of news, Nick Pollard, said Channel 3 would have its own dedicated staff, with its own foreign bureaux.

ITN chief executive Stewart Purvis said: "Our proposals reflect ITV’s very detailed and ambitious invitation to tender. We have worked hard to put together what we hope is a winning combination of guaranteed quality, innovation and value for money." The consortium’s bid is thought to be around £35m, or even lower. Its chairman, Richard Huntingford, chief executive of Chrysalis, denied that its sole purpose had been to undercut ITN: "We wanted to draw up a proposal that offered change, because that is what ITV seemed to be inviting in its tender document."

NUJ deputy general secretary John Fray said he was concerned that the quality of journalism would be affected in a price war, and that staffing costs would be the easiest to cut.

By Julie Tomlin

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