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ITV may be contemplating a merger with a leading UK broadband provider, it has been suggested.

Amid ongoing speculation over the channel's future, Citigroup analysts believe this is one option currently available to the network, reports the Evening Standard.

Computing giant Apple is also said to be weighing up a bid for the 57-year-old commercial broadcaster, which is owned by ITV plc, STV Group and UTV Media.

The channel has a number of hit, revenue-generating shows including X Factor, Britain's Got Talent and Downton Abbey.

However competition from subscription TV provider has continued to intensify in recent years, given their greater financial clout.

For this reason, an official link-up with a broadband provider could make sense for ITV.

Citigroup said there is "logic for this to happen", as the network would instantly gain access to a new marketing platform, through which it could deliver tailored advertising content.

And any broadband provider merging with ITV would have unprecedented access to - and influence over - television content, enabling it to optimise its own entertainment offering.

At present, Citigroup believes there is a "low-to-medium" likelihood of ITV merging with a UK broadband provider, although analysts are likely to monitor the situation closely over the coming months.

Broadband TV services are accounting for a greater share of service provider's turnover, and with YouView set to launch in 2012, adoption rates are likely to increase further.

ITV is one of a number of partners involved in the project to deliver a common set of standards for connected television services.

According to the broadcaster, the YouView initiative will bring "exciting high quality on-demand television services and other online content to the widest range of viewers".

ITV said that the 14 million UK homes who choose not to subscribe to pay TV services will benefit in particular

"As a shareholder in Freeview and Freesat, ITV is committed to maintaining a competitive TV platform mix - satellite, cable, terrestrial - in order to give maximum choice to viewers and multiple distribution options for ITV content," the network stated.

"The open, IP-connected YouView platform will allow ITV to deliver adverts that are more engaging and relevant whilst retaining the unrivalled impact of TV advertising, creating value for our clients and shareholders."

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