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ITV - the UK broadcaster that is branching out into net TV and which recently bought dotcom giant Friends Reunited - has rejected an approach regarding a possible buyout.

In a statement to the stock exchange today ITV said that a consortium comprising Apax Partners, The Blackstone Group and Goldman Sachs' Principal Investment Area had "recently expressed an interest in the possibility of acquiring a controlling interest in ITV".

However, execs "unanimously concluded that the proposal could not be in the best interests of all shareholders and accordingly rejected it".

With the advent of internet TV and video-on-demand industry watchers reckon ITV is ripe for an approach.

Six months ago ITV launched a pilot on the south coast of England of a new regional broadband TV service. The trial formed part of ITV's plans to diversify away from traditional TV content to help cash in on growing net-based revenues. According to the latest figures available, the amount of cash spent on internet advertising in the UK soared 73 per cent last year to £1.13bn - way past other media such as consumer and business mags, radio, outdoor and cinema.

In December ITV snapped up Friends Reunited for £120m in cash and paper with a further £55m payable if the operation hits certain numbers in 2009. The acquisition of Friends Reunited gives ITV the chance to generate content online which, in turn, will help attract much needed advertising bucks. ®

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