ITV one-ups BBC in battle for The Voice UK - by offering to air Kids spin-off

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ITV has reportedly taken the lead in the race to secure the rights to The Voice UK from 2017 by offering to air spin-off series The Voice Kids.

The BBC's current contract for the talent contest expires after next year's fifth series, with ITV currently challenging it for the rights to future series.

Beeb chiefs have reportedly made an offer for two more years costing £11million each - the same amount it currently pays.

But it has recently been suggested that the public service broadcaster is refusing to enter a bidding war, as it faces scrutiny from the Government over how it spends license fee money.

And The Guardian today claimed that ITV has now proposed a better deal - comprising more money and a commitment to The Voice Kids, a childrens' version of the show featuring contestants aged eight to 14 which has proven a hit in the Netherlands and Australia.

The BBC is understood to have decided against airing it as it did not want to risk a backlash for putting youngsters 'under pressure'.

ITV also has the advantage of owning The Voice's production company Talpa Media, which its subsidiary ITV Studios bought earlier this year in a deal reportedly worth £355million.

According to the newspaper, the final decision on who will win the battle lies with Kevin Lygo, ITV Studios' managing director, and John De Mol, Talpa's billionaire founder.

However, De Mol and Talpa previously turned down big-money offers from ITV to stick with the BBC, believing that it values The Voice more.

A switch to ITV would mean the show would have to compete for bosses' attention with Simon Cowell's rival formats The X Factor and Britain's Got Talent.

Last week, ITV said in a letter to the House of Commons that the BBC should be banned from buying formats created by third parties, unless there is no interest in them from commercial channels.

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