ITV unveils new Web offerings

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LONDON -- ITV executive chairman Michael Grade on Tuesday announced his first major online initiative since taking over the commercial broadcaster in January, unveiling a £20 million ($40 million) revamped version of its Web portal ITV.com.

The updated site will offer streamed channels, an Internet catch-up service and access to television archives.

Announcing the move, Grade said the package was "unrivaled" among U.K. broadcasters and will put ITV ahead of the broadband entertainment curve.

The new service gives users access to a 30-day catch-up service for their favorite shows including "Coronation Street" and "Emmerdale" and will see all ITV channels streamed over the Internet. It also will give access to more than 1,000 hours of archived content from such classic ITV shows as "Inspector Morse," "Rising Damp" and "Upstairs, Downstairs."

"Today we are combining the best of TV with the best of the Web to create a service unrivaled by any other commercial broadcaster, anywhere in the world," Grade said. "Some are already streaming their channels, some are providing catch-up, and some building their archive, but ITV.com will provide all three."

The service, which is expected to launch "within weeks" also will offer advertisers cross-platform opportunities, Grade said, and is expected to help the broadcaster build its revenue base outside its core channels.

The move comes a day after the BBC's governing board greenlighted the pubcaster's plan to launch a seven-day catch-up service and three months after Channel 4 made a similar move.
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