ITV has signed a £60m deal with BT Retail to develop and manage a new broadcast network following the merger of Carlton and Granada.
The six-year contract will update ITV's national network, which is used to distribute its broadcast signal around the country.
The network will reduce the total cost of management and ownership and is expected to save ITV around £7m a year.
The merger of Carlton and Granada offered ITV the chance to consolidate its disparate networks.
BT is already responsible for managing the majority of ITV's networks on individual terms, while also providing outside broadcast facilities for the ITV Group, which includes ITV News and Sport.
Richard Cross, chief technology officer for Carlton (who will become ITV's director of technology when the merger is finalised at the end of January) said: "Both companies had some 40 different agreements with BT before signing this one.
"The key point is that we've been working on pulling together all the various network requirements into one agreement with BT."
ITV also wanted to deploy technologies that would allow it to use the network to carry data and voice in the furure.
BT Retail will supply an Asynchronous Transfer Mode (ATM) network to carry traffic at speeds from 45Mbps to 200Mbps, hosted from its network management centres.
"Using ATM network technology gives us much more of a commodity network. Historically speaking, a lot of our network has been outsourced so we didn't have any real concerns about this deal," said Cross.
He added that BT will improve service levels and manage the network as a strategic partner.
While ITV will maintain an in-house team to oversee the implementation, BT will manage and, where necessary, update the network in future.
"We've selected the key equipment already - down to two or three suppliers - and are currently in the process of testing them," said Cross.
The deal was signed at the beginning of December 2003 and Cross expects the network to be finalised in the Autumn.
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