Norton TV firm sold for £17m

An independent production company co-founded by Graham Norton was bought by ITV yesterday for up to £17m (€21.4m) as part of its plans to ramp up its own-made content.

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

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

The acquisition is part of ITV’s strategy to grow its studios division by making more programmes 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.”

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 through to 2014. The series airs 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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