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Cowell signs three-year deal for X-Factor on ITV

LONDON - 'X-Factor' creator Simon Cowell has signed an estimated £20m, three-year deal with ITV, in which the hit talent programme will remain on the channel until 2009.

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The show, which is made by Cowell's production company Syco, has been one of Saturday night's ratings winners for ITV1, regularly pulling in between 6m-7m viewers. The deal was announced after the final show of the present series concluded on Saturday.

'X-Factor' is co-presented by Cowell himself, along with boy band manager Louis Walsh and daytime television presenter and music manager Sharon Osbourne.

Under the terms of the deal, Cowell will be exclusively contracted to ITV in the UK and will be starring on ITV with a number of different projects including the UK version of his latest number one US hit series this summer, 'America's Got Talent'. 

The UK series, 'Britain's Got Talent', devised by Syco and co-produced with Talkback Thames, will include talents of all kinds being invited to try their luck in front of a panel of judges including not only Cowell himself, but also former Daily Mirror editor Piers Morgan, fresh from judging the show in the US.

Cowell said: "ITV gave me my first big break in TV five years ago for which I will be eternally grateful. It has been a fantastic relationship, which continues to go from strength to strength and this unprecedented deal shows that I couldn't be happier in making my TV shows on Britain's best broadcaster."
 
In the final of 'X-Factor' this Saturday, the first female winner of the show, Leona Lewis, beat Ray Quinn. She is expected to take the Christmas number one chart spot with her version of Kelly Clarkson's 'A Moment Like This'. 

Mobile phone manufacturer Nokia once again signed up as the sponsor of this year's series. As part of the sponsorship deal, Nokia had full off-air rights around the shows which included integration within the official website, sponsorship of the official X Factor Tour, as well as off-air promotional rights.

In September 2004, Cowell's former business partner Simon Fuller launched a legal action against the pop impresario, claiming that there were similarities between the 'X-Factor' and Fuller's show 'Pop Idol'. The case was eventually settled out of court.

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