Bakers nets £500m Arqiva-ITV deal

Baker & McKenzie has advised communications company Arqiva in a deal with ITV-owned subsidiary SDN.

Arqiva has signed a £500m contract with the company to design, build and operate its new national digital terrestrial TV network in preparation for the national digital switchover. The switchover begins later this year and will be done region by region until 2012. The Arqiva/SDN contract will run until 2034.

The Bakers team acting on the deal was led by commercial partner Duncan Reid-Thomas alongside associates Andrew Handelsmann and Sam Parr. IT and commercial partner Robbie Downing advised on regulatory issues.

Reid-Thomas previously acted for Arqiva in its contract negotiations to supply digital transmission for the BBC.

According to Reid-Thomas, the SDN deal is unusual because the contract is for such a long period of time.

“We had to think about all the things that could happen in the next 25 years when advising the company,” he said. “There are not many commercial contracts that are so long term. It’s also interesting as it’s part of the national digital switchover programme, meaning it will affect everyone that has a TV.”

SDN currently broadcasts a range of free-to-air channels, including Five, S4C and QVC, as well as a number of pay channels. As a result of the switch to digital the company’s coverage will increase to 90 per cent of the UK population.

SDN was advised by Wiggin & Co media partner Sean James.