Channel 4 has sold its participation television subsidiary Ostrich Media to iTouch, the company that provides telephone voting for Big Brother and Deal or No Deal in the United Kingdom.
The channel established Ostrich Media a year ago to produce Quiz Call, a call television channel. The sale of the business was apparently prompted by increased competition in the sector, the prospect of regulatory changes and potential damage to the Channel 4 brand.
There has been increasing concern over call television formats that invite viewers to call premium rate lines to answer trivial quiz questions, putting them under the regulatory spotlight.
A representative of the channel was reported as saying that “the transactional TV market has become increasingly competitive and Channel 4 no longer believes that the opportunity exists for it to make significant profits”. Channel 4 is expected to launch a new channel on Freeview to replace Quiz Call.
The business has been bought by iTouch, which provides information, entertainment and messaging services to mobile phones. Now part of the Forside group in Japan, it has operations in the UK and Ireland, other European countries, South Africa, Latin America, Australia and New Zealand.
With the acquisition of Ostrich Media, iTouch will be seeking international opportunities to combine transactional television and broadcast interaction.