Luther set to assist Channel 3 News bid

Channel 3 News, the consortium vying to take over the ITV news

contract from ITN, has drafted in agency help to support its bid.

Luther Pendragon, the agency set up by former ITN News at Ten programme

editor Charles Stewart-Smith, has won the account following a pitch

thought to have included Brunswick, APCO and Media Strategy.

Stewart-Smith leads a four-strong team, reporting to Channel 3 News

chairman and fellow consortium member Chrysalis chief executive Richard


The agency will run a full PR service, including a press office role,

financial PR and a public affairs programme.

'Channel 3 is an attractive prospect as the news provider for ITV

because it has a single focus, whereas ITN has the ITV contract as one

of a number of areas it is involved in,' said Stewart-Smith.

'It does give me something of an edge because I know a lot about ITN,'

he added.

The Channel 3 consortium is made up of Bloomberg, Sky, CBS News,

Chrysalis and Ulster TV. The bid was announced earlier this year as the

first competition to ITN's ITV contract since it took it on in 1955.

Channel 3 News received a major boost last month when the ITC granted it

nominated news provider status, a requirement to run news on ITV. ITN's

current five-year contract is due to end in December 2002.

Although no timescale has been set, bids are expected within the next

few months with a decision likely by the end of the year.

Luther will work with Channel 3 under its present contract until a

decision by ITV is made.

If ITN lost the contract, Carlton and Granada - ITV's biggest

shareholders - would be affected as they have a 20 per cent stake in


Huntingdon said: 'Gaining news provider status was very important to us.

We are offering a realistic, cost-effective and experienced alternative

to ITN.'

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