ITN prepares to bid for news services in a rebuilt Iraq

LONDON – UK news provider ITN is considering launching an Iraq TV news channel as part of a $10m proposal by the coalition authorities to start rebuilding the war-torn country's broadcasting network.

ITN Consulting, part of the news provider's international operation, has a team out in Baghdad looking into the contract, which has been put out to tender by the Coalition Provisional Authority.

The contract is understood to be for a number of news and general entertainment TV and radio stations, plus a national newspaper.

Iraqis currently have access to the BBC's services plus the US-backed Iraqi Media Network, which has an AM/FM radio station and a TV network and reaches about two-thirds of Iraqi homes.

More affluent Iraqis are said to have bought satellite dishes and are accessing news and entertainment such as Arabic channels Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya and the UK's BBC World, which has resulted in many deserting the state TV offering.

ITN would be expected to team up with a US engineering firm to provide the services, because many of the reconstruction contracts have been awarded to US companies.

It is also expected to enter talks with World Service Trust, the charity arm of the BBC World Service. The trust is also believed to be looking into the contract and, if successful, ITN would consult on how to set up a public service broadcasting company.

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