C5 Chief: Industry must consolidate

From Colin Mann in London

Dawn Airey, the Chairman and CEO of UK commercial broadcaster Channel 5, has said that there must be industry consolidation to ensure the sector's continued existence.

Pointing out that in comparable broadcasting markets, the industry had consolidated around a couple of major commercial players, Airey told members of the Broadcasting Press Guild that with BSkyB, Channel 4, ITV and Channel 5, in addition to the BBC competing in the UK, some degree of consolidation was necessary and inevitable. "The industry has to consolidate; I'm not just talking about Channel 5," she said.

Airey had been hopeful in the run up to the 'Digital Britain' report that Channel 4 would be allowed to merge with Channel 5, "the synergies were very significant," she suggested, but the former dismissed this out of hand. Airey nevertheless confirmed that she continued to talk to all UK broadcasters regarding potential joint ventures or co-operation. "We're not sitting here passively," she claimed.

With confirmation that broadcast transmission firm Arqiva had acquired the 'Project Kangaroo' video-on-demand technology developed for the proposed joint venture between ITV, Channel 4 and BBC Worldwide, Airey revealed that although not part of the original venture, Channel 5 remained committed to being on as many platforms as possible, and was likely to be involved in both that and the Project Canvas IPTV standard. "Carriage isn't necessarily a problem, but we don't want to pay a lot of money for additional spectrum," she admitted.

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