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ITV is offered Setanta stake

David Hellier
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ITV HAS been offered a 30 per cent stake in Setanta, the struggling pay-TV sports channel, CityAM has learnt.<br /><br />The offer came amid recent talks between the two channels, with Setanta desperate to raise cash to help it fund forthcoming rights payments to the Football Association, the Premier League and other sporting bodies.<br /><br />ITV is believed to have been unwilling to take the talks too seriously. The commercial broadcaster, which is looking for a new chief executive, is itself struggling for funds and many in the City believe it will launch a rights issue to bolster its balance sheet.<br /><br />However, sources close to ITV said that it would make sense for the broadcaster to venture into the pay television market in the future.<br /><br />In any case, ITV has a vested interest in Setanta resolving its problems.<br /><br />If Setanta were to run out of cash, ITV would be landed with a &pound;20m bill to take over its contract to show England football internationals.<br /><br />News of the ITV talks comes as the satellite operator BSkyB turned down a request from Setanta to put up a &pound;50m advance payment to help ease its cash-flow problems. BSkyB offers Setanta&rsquo;s sports channels on its platform.