ITV has held talks with BSkyB about switching its advertiser-funded free-to-air digital channels such as ITV2 to subscription, meaning they would no longer be available to Freeview viewers.
The commercial broadcaster has been forced to consider the option in the face of the worst advertising downturn in its history. The move comes despite the free-to-air strategy having made ITV2 the most watched non-sports digital channel in the UK.
ITV has reportedly held talks with BSkyB about switching ITV2, ITV3 and ITV4, to subscription. ITV could then pay a nominal carriage fee to BSkyB for broadcasting the channels and in return receive a guaranteed cut of revenues from channel packages sold to pay-TV subscribers. BSkyB remains ITV’s largest shareholder, owning 17.9 per cent of the company, it is still hoping to fight a ruling by competition regulators to reduce its stake to less than 7.5 per cent.