UK - UK commercial broadcaster ITV, facing a £5bn takeover bid from NTL, is planning to close its €1.758bn (£1.12bn) final salary pension scheme also to existing members, in favour of a career-average scheme.

The firm said today: "ITV, in common with many other employers, is reviewing its DB [defined benefit] pension provision and we have started the process of consultation." It already closed the DB scheme to new members in July.

The move, which is likely to ease the broadcaster's estimated £325m pension deficit, would affect about 1,500 of the firm's 6,000 employees, according to news reports yesterday.

Broadcasting unions, unhappy about the plans, are expected to fight the proposals. Bectu, representing 27,000 members, has already opposed pension changes at TV news provider ITN last month.

Last week UK cable firm NTL said it had approached ITV with a "highly tentative" merger bid. However, it appeared today that NTL would face a £330m pension bill.

The news came after the pensions regulator warned that any company which buys ITV would be expected to inject a "significant" sum into the broadcaster's scheme to safeguard staff benefits.