Weekend reports suggest that Microsoft is considering launching a rescue bid for cash-strapped broadcaster ITV Digital. The software giant is trying to assemble a consortium to take over the wreckage, according to the Observer newspaper.

The troubled digital-TV network, locked into an expensive broadcast deal with the Football League, went into administration last month after failing to negotiate lower transmission fees.

A Microsoft spokeswoman said: 'It is our policy never to comment on market speculation and rumour'.

However, it is known that the company is keen to become a major player in the interactive television market, having taken stakes in the UK cable firms, NTL and Telewest.

Culture secretary Tessa Jowell hinted on Friday that "new players" could save the broadcaster from being liquidated.

If a buyer for the company does not come forward in the next few days, ITV Digital is likely to be broken up and its assets sold off piecemeal.

Speculation about potential buyers has previously centered on European media giants such as Vivendi or Bertelesmann or on venture capitalist groups.

Deloitte & Touche are already offering the company's assets for sale but say they are still hopeful of finding a buyer for the business as a going concern.

Meetings will take place on Monday and Tuesday with an announcement to come as early as Wednesday.