Price for BBC arm upgraded

Expectations of the amount the privatisation of the BBC's transmission services will fetch have been upgraded sharply, following the recent sale of NTL, the private-sector TV transmission company, to International CableTel for pounds 235m.

Earmarked for privatisation by the Government, BBC Transmission had been expected to generate about pounds 180m, of which a proportion would go directly to the Treasury to account for direct government payments for the World Service. But, according to industry sources, the operation could now fetch as much as pounds 250m, following the benchmark set by the NTL sale.

The BBC has declined to comment on the privatisation. But it is believed that senior managers have been encouraged by the premium price achieved for NTL, which has a national network similar to that of the public service broadcaster.

NTL, formerly part of the now-defunct Independent Broadcasting Authority, provides services to ITV and Channel 4, and has won the licence to transmit the new Channel 5. It is also a leader in the emerging digital market, and is expected to play a role in the introduction of digital terrestrial television, promised for later this decade.

The privatisation preparations are being handled by a special committee at the BBC, which is currently reviewing all the transmission assets. The Corporation is to determine exactly which of these will be sold off. For example, some of what is now part of BBC Transmission is, in fact, related to outside broadcasting facilities, which will be retained.

The timetable for the sell-off has not yet been determined. The BBC is waiting until the new Broadcasting Bill, of which the second reading begins this week in the Commons, is passed, probably by the summer. It is believed that the sale could be completed by the end of the year.

Under its plan, the BBC will be guaranteed service from the operation's new owners at a price not to exceed current levels. Moreover, it will share in the benefits of any cost savings achieved by the buyer.

It is unclear whether NTL's new owner, CableTel, will be allowed to bid, as there could be monopoly concerns.

Other possible bidders include Racal, the electronics company, BT and Carlton, the television company, which has declared an interest in broadcast services.

The BBC has said the privatisation does not mark the start of a round of asset sales.

Separately, there are concerns that a sale to NTL would place Britain's entire terrestrial television infrastructure into foreign hands. CableTel, a leading UK cable operator, is listed in New York and is overwhelmingly held by US shareholders.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Digital Optimisation Executive - Marketing

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The UK's fastest growing, multi...

Recruitment Genius: Financial Reporting Manager

£70000 - £90000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Financial Reporting Manager i...

Recruitment Genius: Payments Operations Assistant

£23000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They win lots of awards for the...

Recruitment Genius: Telephone Debt Negotiator

£13500 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This nationwide enforcement com...

Day In a Page

Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific