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ITV, Channel 5 keep licences

ITV and Channel 5 in the UK will retain their public service remit for another 10 years, with the latter promising to increase its invest in children’s programming.

Culture secretary Maria Miller today announced that the channel 3 and 5 licences will remain with their existing broadcasters until 2025, with the new deal set to come into force on January 1, 2015.

Northern & Shell-owned Channel 5 wholly operates the 5 licence, while channel 3 is jointly held by ITV in England, Wales and the Channel Islands; UTV in Northern Ireland; and STV in Scotland. Their combined investment in original content amounts to about £800m (US$1.3bn) a year.

Under the new deal, Northern & Shell has committed to invest more in children’s programming with a promise to air at least 600 hours of UK-originated kids’ content a year.

This would make up about half of the children’s programming on Channel 5 and comes at a time when kids’ shows are disappearing from the schedules of mainstream terrestrial channels. The BBC has moved its children’s content to dedicated channels such as CBBC and CBeebies, while ITV also operates CiTV.

Meanwhile, ITV has been told to address why viewers living in the south of Scotland do not receive the same level of programming about Scotland as those in the northern and central parts of the country.

Miller said: “The UK is in a global race, and the TV programmes produced for 3 and 5 are exported around the world. Renewing the licences will ensure the holders can continue to invest in original UK content.”

She added that the final licence terms were still subject to negotiations that include the levels of public service broadcasting each are required to air.

Regulator Ofcom is expected conclude the agreements by the expiry date of the existing deal.

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