BBC sells 'Radio Times' and other titles


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The Independent Online

The commercial arm of the BBC yesterday secured a deal to sell off magazines including the Radio Times to the private equity company Exponent as part of a deal that will see the group land £121m.

BBC Worldwide put the titles up for sale last September, and revealed in may that Exponent was its preferred partner. Terms and structure of the deal were announced yesterday.

The buyout group is to buy all of the magazines without BBC branding including the Radio Times and Gardens Illustrated.

It has also secured the rights for 18 BBC titles including Gardeners' World and BBC Wildlife.

Worldwide is to retain ownership of four titles including Top Gear and Lonely Planet, although they will be handed to Exponent on a contract publishing basis.

The BBC has also agreed to sell the 50 per cent shareholding in its Indian joint venture Worldwide Media, to its fellow shareholder Bennett, Coleman & Co, the owner of The Times of India.

The majority of £121m from the two deals will be returned to the BBC, according to a spokeswoman.

John Smith, the chief executive of BBC Worldwide, said the business had divested the title to pursue a strategy "increasingly focused on international video and digital services".

"The consumer magazines market faces a number of challenges, and this transaction brings a focus and degree of investment that BBC Worldwide alone is unable to provide," he said.

BBC Magazines is the UK's fourth-largest consumer magazine publisher by circulation.