BBC Studios, the Corporation’s commercial subsidiary, and multichannel programmer Discovery have confirmed the close of the UKTV transaction, announced on April 1st, 2019. Discovery formally takes over control of lifestyle channels Really, Home and Good Food and BBC Studios takes over entertainment channels Alibi, Dave, Drama, Eden, Gold, W and Yesterday, the UKTV brand, as well as the digital service UKTV Play.
As the UKTV deal closes, five channels from both businesses are moving into new positions on the Freeview Electronic Programme Guide (EPG):
|Network||Previous EPG position||New EPG position|
“UKTV has always been an important part of the BBC Group, creating value for licence fee payers and British programme makers,” commented Marcus Arthur, President, UK & Ireland at BBC Studios and new CEO of UKTV. “UKTV’s award-winning brands, innovative commissions and premium acquisitions have delivered large and loyal audiences who love great TV. As a wholly-owned part of BBC Studios we will support its future content ambitions, building on its history of success over many years.”
“Today marks an exciting milestone for Discovery, as we welcome UKTV’s lifestyle channels to our substantial UK portfolio,” added James Gibbons, EVP General Manager UK & ANZ at Discovery. “We are committed to deepening our position with viewers as the leader in real life entertainment by building great brands that power people’s passions and deliver value to our partners.”
In April 2019, Discovery and BBC Studios also signed an historic ten-year content partnership deal making Discovery the exclusive global SVoD home (excluding UK, Ireland and Greater China) of BBC landmark natural history programmes, including Planet Earth, Blue Planet, Life and Dynasties. Discovery also acquired SVoD rights to hundreds of hours of BBC programming across factual genres.
UK media regulator Ofcom confirmed on June 5th that it would not be conducting a formal competition assessment of the deal.
Ofcom said its job is to assess whether the change could risk distorting the market, or give the BBC’s commercial subsidiaries an unfair advantage over rival services, because of their relationship with the Public Service.
But having considered the deal, Ofcom declared that it believes its existing trading and separation regulation sufficiently safeguards against any potential competition risks, and accordingly decided not to conduct a formal competition assessment.