ITV Consumer chief executive Jeff Henry said today he was close to making a series of acquisitions.
ITV Consumer chief executive Jeff Henry said today he was close to making a series of acquisitions.

"We will grow organically through our existing business and also through acquisitions of which we will be announcing some imminently. We will look to distribute our content over all available platforms," Henry told delegates at the Nokia Mobility Conference in Barcelona this morning.

Henry did not reveal any details about the acquisitions but ITV is keen to move into new areas, including mobile TV, TV-over-broadband, transactional channels and pay-TV.

It has already privately expressed an interest in buying Top Up TV and Sit Up TV. It could also decide to bid for Homechoice, the TV-over-broadband service which is currently being looked at by Sky.

ITV could also look to ape Sky's recent purchase of telecoms firm Easynet, which it picked up for£211m last week. That deal will allow Sky to broadcast its channels over broadband.

Henry also revealed that ITV would be launching its participation TV initiative ITV Play in early 2006 which will be a TV channel with broadband and mobile variants. Gaming, betting and dating are options for the channel.

A TV-over-broadband channel, which will allow viewers to upload their own content, is also in the pipeline.

Henry used his speech to call on producers to invest in interactive and mobile content, claiming the production community has so far neglected the new media space.

He said he was concerned that the fledgling mobile phone content market may struggle to take off because of producers' lack of expertise.

"It's a real area of concern for us that many producers haven't grasped interactive TV or internet and I'm worried that the creative community may respond in the same way to mobile industry," he said, adding: "The production community needs to invest in this area."

He said that ultimately ITV would stream all of its family of channels via mobile but would begin with a mobile channel which would stream "made for mobile" content. The broadcaster will begin commissioning news, sports, and spin off versions of high rating shows for the channel in due course.

However he pointed out ITV's plans depended on nailing down a rights agreement with independent producers: "We will fail if there are no guiding principles agreed on licensing rights to broadcasters. Mobile rights need to be made available to broadcasters around the time of transmission on TV."