The BBC will not be “pulling out its cheque book” for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s tell-all interview with Oprah Winfrey, the Telegraph can reveal.
The Duchess, 39, is understood to have wanted the highly anticipated tete-a-tete to be broadcast on the most prestigious British channel.
But as the corporation ruled itself out, ITV became the frontrunner to win the UK rights.
The 90-minute special - the couple’s first sit-down interview since they got engaged in November 2017 - is expected to attract huge viewing figures.
It will begin with a no-holds barred, “intimate” chat between Ms Winfrey and the Duchess, in which the pregnant 39-year-old will spill the beans about everything from stepping into life as a royal to how she is handling “life under intense pressure”.
They will then be joined by the Duke as they speak about “their move to the United States and their future hopes and dreams for their expanding family.”
The interview will be broadcast in the US on March 7 by CBS, airing at 8pm EST - 1am in the UK. ITV would likely show the programme in a primetime evening slot on March 8.
It has been claimed that a fierce bidding war has been underway for the international rights, with negotiations centred around Sky and ITV.
But there appears to have been little appetite to blow budgets for the interview.
A BBC source told the Telegraph the BBC was not involved in negotiations, adding: “We won’t be pulling out the cheque book out for this.”
The corporation could not justify spending such a substantial chunk of taxpayers’ cash on the interview, which it would simply cover on news channels, it is understood.
On March 7, the BBC will instead broadcast a Celebration For Commonwealth Day, featuring a message from the Queen alongside contributions from the Prince of Wales, the Duchess of Cornwall, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and the Countess of Wessex.
Neither Netflix nor Amazon are said to have been involved in the bidding war, according to Variety, the Hollywood trade magazine, despite the former’s multi-million production deal with the Sussexes.
The US publication claimed that ViacomCBS Global Distribution Group, which is selling the international rights, was “keen for the interview to land on a free-to-air broadcaster” in order to secure higher viewing figures in the UK.
Variety said that as of Wednesday, Sky was thought to be out of the running.
Channel 5, which was acquired by ViacomCBS in May 2014, confirmed it was not involved.
Sources told the Telegraph that it was most likely to be aired on ITV if bought by a terrestrial channel. Apple TV+, which has a multi-year content deal with Ms Winfrey, could otherwise be in with an outside chance.
The US chat show queen recently joined forces with the Duke of Sussex for a series about mental health for the channel, which is currently in production.
It was ITV that secured the last headline-grabbing interview by the Sussexes during their October 2019 tour of southern Africa.
The Duchess told journalist Tom Bradby of the unbearable pressure of life in the spotlight as the Duke acknowledged a “rift” with his brother, the Duke of Cambridge, for the first time.
ITV and Sky declined to comment.