Wark gets £1m from sale of TV production firm

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The Independent Online

Kirsty Wark, the presenter of BBC 2's Newsnight programme, has received more than £1m from the sale of the independent television production company she started with her husband.

IWC Media, which was created last year by the merger of Wark Clements, the company the couple began in 1990, and another independent, Ideal World, was bought yesterday by the much larger RDF Media, the maker of reality shows such as Wife Swap and Faking It.

RDF paid an initial fee of £8.4m for IWC, based in Glasgow and best known for Channel 4's Location, Location, Location, which could increase to £14m depending on performance. Last year it was the second largest regional television production company. The two companies already have rights and distribution links.

Ms Wark and her husband, Alan Clements, each own 15 per cent of IWC and the couple are expected to net a combined windfall of about £2.5m. Another Scot, Muriel Gray, the former television presenter who set up Ideal World in 1987, will also earn about £1.2m. from the deal. Ms Wark was involved in controversy in Scotland over her friendship with Jack McConnell, the First Minister, who was criticised for going on holiday at her villa in Majorca last year. She was also accused of a conflict of interest after her company made a film about the controversy over the building of the new Scottish Parliament building, despite the fact that she was a member of the panel which chose the architect.

Ms Wark will now end her interest in the company, having been a non-executive director of IWC for some time. Her husband will stay on as creative director.

Last year, IWC made around £20m of programmes. Flagship IWC shows included the Channel 4 comedy series Meet the Magoons and BBC documentary No Sex Please... We're Teenagers.

RDF said that the deal would improve its presence in the growing production market outside London. Chief executive David Frank said: "Broadcasters are under greater pressure than ever to meet regional and national programming quotas.

"The BBC has recently announced that it will almost double its spend outside London in this area by 2012. As a leading independent producer with a genuine regional presence, RDF, with IWC, will be very well placed to exploit these developments."

The deal is the second production company merger this week. Shed Productions, the makers of Footballers' Wives, acquired Ricochet, which produces Supernanny, for £30m. It is also RDF's second acquisition of the year, after it took control of Touchpaper in a deal worth £2.7m in August.