BBC to sell 'Radio Times'

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The Independent Online

The BBC has been given permission to sell off a stake in its magazine business, which publishes titles including Radio Times and Top Gear.

An email sent to staff from Peter Phippen, the head of BBC Magazines, said the corporation wanted possible investors to make "formal expressions of interest" before Christmas.

He said: "We would hope to have a decision on the future of the business by the end of this financial year [March], though the reality is that it could take longer."

Other titles to be sold include Gardener's World, Good Food and Lonely Planet. At least 30 bidders are believed to have expressed an interest in the business, which is the fourth- largest magazine publisher in Britain.

The corporation's commercial arm, BBC Worldwide, said in April that it was "seeking a partnership" with another company to run the magazine business, but the plan has only just been approved by the BBC Trust.

It is unlikely that BBC executives would favour a complete sell-off that would see brands such as Radio Times, which was first published 87 years ago, pass out of the corporation's control for the first time.