James Bond films to keep airing on ITV

MGM's TV distribution unit renews agreement with Brit net

The Lion's TV distribution unit has inked a multi-year renewal agreement with ITV for the James Bond movie franchise.

The deal will keep the film franchise on the British commercial network and its family of channels for several years and is highlighted by the premiere of "Quantum of Solace," which continues the adventures of the spy as played by Daniel Craig. The deal was unveiled Monday by MGM Worldwide TV co-president Gary Marenzi.

As part of the agreement, for the first time in the U.K. marketplace, all the Bond films -- including "Casino Royale," "Goldfinger," "From Russia With Love" and "Diamonds are Forever" -- will be shown in high def on ITV1 HD across its 2010 and 2011 schedules.

No details were available as to the value of the renewal deal. Bond films typically rate decently on European TV stations and are often shown during holiday periods. Annual revenues from licensing the Lion library domestically and internationally are currently thought to be in the $300 million range.

Zai Bennett, ITV director of Digital Channels and Acquisitions, said: "James Bond is a British cinematic icon loved by ITV's audience and we're delighted to continue the franchise's long association with ITV, as well as the chance, for the first time, to show every Bond feature film in fantastic HD."

ITV's broadcasting business is made up of ITV1, the country's largest commercial channel in terms of audience share, and several digital channels. Annually ITV invests around £1 billion in content for its broadcast channels and its website itv.com.

The debt-burdened Lion's overall future continues to be up in the air, with a planned hook-up with Spyglass Entertainment possible within the next month