The BBC’s commercial division is looking at stumping up £500 million (€560m) to take full control of its UKTV joint-venture with Scripps Networks Interactive, according to a report in The Daily Telegraph citing industry insiders.
BBC Worldwide would be the acquirer, and the newspaper says the BBC would seek funding from private investors.
The move comes about because of a condition in the original deal between Virgin Media, which owned the 50 per cent of UKTV that was sold to Scripps in a 2011 deal which valued the stake at a total of £339 million.
The BBC had an option in the contract to increase its stake to 60 per cent, which it has not exercised. There was also reportedly a clause that if Scripps was to sell its half to a third party then the BBC had a ‘first refusal’ to step in.
Scripps Interactive is in the process of selling its stake to Discovery Communications as part of a $14.6 billion overall sale of its broadcasting businesses. Discovery was an early interested party in buying the business from Virgin Media back in 2011.
UKTV is made up of a batch of FTA and pay-TV channels and almost exclusively depends on BBC programming for content.