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Microsoft linked to ITV Digital rescue bid

LONDON - Microsoft, which is already a shareholder in cable group Telewest, is being linked to an ITV Digital Rescue bid.

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It is understood to be part of a consortium that has expressed serious interest to administrator Deloitte & Touche about taking over the crisis-hit service. It is believed that BT could also be linked to the Microsoft-backed bid.

Deloitte & Touche has said that it is to meet with at least one consortium in the next couple of days and an announcement could be forthcoming as early as Wednesday.

On Friday, the Independent Television Commission put out to tender the ITV Digital licence after no bids for the service were made.

Microsoft refused to comment on the speculation, but it is known to have held talks with BT about developing interactive television projects in the past and two have worked closely together on other issues. As well as its stake in Telewest, Microsoft has also invested in NTL.

It is thought that ITV Digital owners Carlton Communications and Granada will come to some kind of deal with the Football League over the £178m the league is owed. This will also see off the possibility of a £500m lawsuit.

The league has been sabre-rattling about the possibility of suing Carlton and Granada, but a successful action against the ITV companies is seen as unlikely.

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