Scripps Poised To Buy Virgin’s UKTV Stake

There have been rumours since before Christmas that US media group Scripps is in the market to buy Virgin Media’;s 50% stake in UKTV (the PayTV channel business which also has the BBC as a 50% backer and claims 36 million viewers a month). Now, emerging media reports suggest that the deal is on the verge of being signed off.

If the deal goes through, it’;s a fascinating tie-up, bringing together the BBC’;s rich archive together with Scripps’; line-up of popular lifestyle channels, most notably HGTV, DIY Network, Food Network, Cooking Channel and The Travel Channel.

A Scripps-BBC tie-up would require some remodelling at UKTV for a couple of reasons. Firstly, because of the clear overlap in content areas such as food and homes. And secondly because Scripps’; US-focused content wouldn’;t fit comfortably with the over-arching UKTV brand.

That said, the two are both big producers of content, which would be a benefit to the joint channel business. Not to be overlooked either is that Scripps’; international arm is headed by Greg Moyer, a PayTV veteran who led Discovery’;s roll out into Europe back in the 1980s and 1990s.

The other company that had been linked with a deal was Discovery, which has a long-track record of working with the BBC. Interestingly, a BBC/Scripps co-venture would make UKTV a head-on rival with Discovery’;s own channels – which cover the spectrum from high-end factual to lifestyle.

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