Media heavyweights and private investors including Discovery Communications, BT and a consortium led by its former chairman Luke Johnson are weighing up an offer for Channel 4 as the UK government prepares to sell off the broadcaster, according to The Sunday Telegraph.
Johnson, who chaired the taxpayer-owned broadcaster between 2004 and 2010 and now leads the private equity firm Risk Capital Partners, has reportedly approached a string of potential backers over a bid, which could value Channel 4 at more than £1 billion.
Meanwhile sources familiar with thinking at Discovery, the global television giant behind pay-TV programmes such as Deadliest Catch, said it was keeping a close eye on plans for Channel 4 and weighing a bid. The company was in the running last year to take over Channel 5 but balked at the price demanded by its then-owner, the magazine publisher Richard Desmond.
Ownership of free terrestrial channels has formed a key part of Discovery’s expansion strategy in European markets and it recently acquired Pan-European rights to the Olympics, which come with obligations to show the games on free-to-air TV.