Virgin says goodbye Dave with sale of UKTV stake
Nick Clark is the arts correspondent of The Independent. He joined the newspaper in June 2007, initially reporting on the stock markets. He has covered beats including the City, and technology, media and telecoms and made the switch to arts in December 2011. He has also contributed articles to the sports section.
Tuesday 16 August 2011
Virgin Media has sold off its stake in UKTV, whose channels include Watch, Gold and Dave, following more than a year of speculation. The move marks the end of almost 15 years of the company owning television content.
Virgin announced yesterday that it had sold its 50 per cent stake in the business to Scripps Networks Interactive, a broadcaster based in Tennessee, in a deal worth £239m. Scripps will also pay about £100m to buy the outstanding stock and debt UKTV owes to Virgin Media.
The deal marks the culmination of Virgin's strategy to develop its infrastructure and concentrate on distribution rather than owning content. The Virgin chief executive, Neil Berkett, said: "This will allow us to continue to focus on providing a transformative experience for our customers by developing our core strategic strength – the UK's leading digital network."
A spokeswoman for the company said the strategy was about gaining access to content "but not owning it". She said the company would still pay hundreds of millions of pounds for content to be shown on its video-on-demand service, as well as in carriage agreements.
UKTV was formed in 1997 between BBC Worldwide and Flextech, which would later become Virgin Media Television. It currently has about 36 million viewers a month across 10 lifestyle, entertainment and factual programming channels.
Reports that Virgin was looking tooffload its half of the joint venture with BBC Worldwide, the corporation's commercial arm, have circulated for about 18 months. Last year, Virgin sold a portfolio of channels, including Bravo and Living, to its arch-rival BSkyB.
Scotland could still declare independence – even without referendum, says Alex Salmond
Scottish referendum results: Cross-party consensus collapses amid Tory-Labour spat on the 'English question'
Hilary Mantel 'should be investigated by police' over Margaret Thatcher assassination story, says Lord Bell
Plebgate MP Andrew Mitchell called officer a 'little s**t', claim court documents 'exposing ex-Chief Whip's 'record of abusing police'
Archbishop of Canterbury admits doubts about existence of God
Labour Party conference: Ed Balls to set out plan to freeze child benefit to balance books
- 1 Cyclist in Russia narrowly misses being hit by car and lorry
- 2 'F*ck it, I quit': KTVA reporter Charlo Greene quits live on air in spectacular fashion
- 3 What are your fingerprint words?
- 4 Gary Lineker involved in Twitter row after presenter rubbishes claims he will be warned by BBC over foul-mouthed tweets
- 5 Pink Floyd new album: Band unveil cover art for first record in 20 years