PartyGaming extends deal with ITV

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According to Reuters, PartyGaming, Plc. announced today it had strengthened a deal with ITV to provide the U.K. broadcaster with branded online betting, casino and bingo games.

The online gambling company, which operates PartyPoker, had an existing affiliate deal with ITV that was put in place in June. An ITV spokesman told Reuters the deal links users to PartyGaming poker and gaming sites.

The deal has seen ITV revamp its Web site, while PartyGaming has developed a poker room based on ITV's Friends Reunited social networking site and an Emmerdale soap opera themed bingo site.

The games have been up on ITV's Web site since Tuesday, according to a PartyGaming spokesman, and they run on PartyGaming's network.

The deal is said to be a way for ITV to combat falling revenues from advertisers who are switching their attention to the Internet, as well as to fill the revenue gap left by a scandal over faked TV premium-rate phone quizzes.

A show on Channel 4 was found to have deceived viewers into making call-in entries for competitions they stood no chance of winning. After that, similar deceptions across all major channels were discovered in the U.K. and resulted in a regulatory crackdown.

ITV's response was to halt its own premium call-in shows and launch an investigation into its own practices. Michael Grade, ITV executive chairman, commented on the issue in July during a speech about the importance of trust between broadcasters and viewers.

"It was, frankly, an unexpected, shocking, but very necessary wake-up call," he said. "Despite the commercial implications, I called an immediate halt to ITV's PRTS services while a rigorous independent review examined the scope and implications of the problem."

Grade has said they will make public whatever they find in their own investigation. In the meantime, the company has had to find ways to make up the revenue it has lost from taking down that service.

PartyGaming anticipates that the agreement will bolster its revenues and increase its exposure in Europe, in the wake of choosing to give up its U.S. customers nearly a year ago when the U.S. Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act was passed into law.

It has been refocusing its efforts on other international markets for its online gambling sites, and this extended deal with ITV may be the first of many media deals for the company. Last week the company said it was close to publicizing deals with large European media companies, and it is expected that more deals will be announced.

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