Virgin TV sale to Sky nears

Alongside rowing over wholesale pricing of Sky premium programming on its cablenets, Virgin and Sky have managed to drag long running negotiations on the sale of Virgin's TV channels to a conclusion with a deal expected next week.

Virgin has been trying to off load its V1, Bravo, Challenge and Living portfolio for a long time and reports have it Sky will pay about £150 million (E177m) for the line up. As part of the complex deal the cable operator is expected to clinch a long-term carriage deal.

This leaves Virgin with the BBC JV channels UKTV (Gold and Dave). It is likely Virgin will close its IDS in house sales team which sells across Virgin and UKTV channels with C4 favourite to pick up the UKTV sales.

The deal will also result in VMTV being able to break up its inhouse advertising sales operation, IDS, which handles airtime deals for both the wholly owned channels such as Living and the UKTV joint venture with the BBC, which operates services including Gold and Dave. A buyer is still sought for the Virgin half of UKTV but this is complicated by the BBC's veto.

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