Travel Channel owner Scripps buys into UKTV

If anyone doubted that the digital TV business in the UK (apart from Sky) was destined always to be a minnow, further evidence to the contrary has emerged with US company Scripps Networks Interactive, owner of Travel Channel and Food Network, buying into UKTV for a price that could reach £340m.

Scripps, headquartered in Knoxville, Tennessee, is buying Virgin Media’s 50 per cent stake (the remainder is owned by BBC Worldwide) for £239m and will pay up to a further £100m for UKTV stock and options owed to Virgin.

UKTV’s channels include comedy channel Dave and Good Food Network.

Scripps is also negotiating with BBC Worldwide, which quietly does on making buckets of money for the Beeb, to sell it ten per cent of its newly-acquired holding in return for some rights to BBC Worldwide programmes.

The deal looks a good one for all parties: Virgin gets out of a programming business it doesn’t have the aptitude or finances to pursue with a reasonable price, Scripps expands internationally and forms a close relationship with BBC Worldwide while BBC Worldwide, maybe, brings forward the day when it can become an independent global TV business, freed of UK government control.

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About Stephen Foster

Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.