Norton TV firm sold to ITV for £17m

Graham NortonAn independent production company co-founded by Graham Norton has been bought by ITV for up to £17 million as part of its plans to ramp up its own-made content.

So Television was founded by Mr Norton and his business partner Graham Stuart 12 years ago, focusing on comedy and entertainment with hit shows including the Bafta award-winning Graham Norton Show and The Sarah Millican Television Programme.

ITV has agreed to pay £10 million up front while a further £7 million will be payable depending on performance up to July 2016, but the company refused to say how much Mr Norton could pocket from the deal.

The acquisition is part of ITV's strategy to grow its Studios division by making more TV both for the domestic market and overseas as it looks to decrease its exposure to the volatile advertising market.

Norton said: "So TV has been our baby for 12 years, so I'm thrilled that the ITV family has decided to take it under their wing and help it blossom."

Mr Stuart, a producer, added: "Now we have the chance to achieve what we've always wanted to in this industry but with real strength and inspiration behind us."

Earlier this year, the BBC recommissioned The Graham Norton Show, which was described as So TV's crown jewel, through to 2014. The series is broadcast in 100 countries.

And The Sarah Millican Television Programme has been recommissioned for a second run, which will kick off with a Christmas special. So TV also produces panel show Alexander Armstrong's Big Ask for Dave, which was recommissioned earlier this year.

ITV Studios managing director Kevin Lygo said: "So Television and Graham Norton have been making high-quality programmes for many years now.

"I believe that ITV Studios can bring scale to their ambitions and together we can continue to keep The Graham Norton Show at the top of its game and increase the amount of new programming in their production slate."

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