BBC spins off b’cast

Beeb sells transmission arm to Oz consortium

LONDON — The BBC’s transmission business, BBC Broadcast, has been sold to an Australian consortium for a reported £166 million (£300 million).

Offer from Creative Broadcast Services, owned by the Macquarie Capital Alliance Group and Macquarie Bank, Australia’s biggest bank, bested private equity group Apax, French electronics group Thomson/Technicolor and Exponent Private Equity.

The new owners are expected to take over the business later this summer once the deal is ratified by the British government.

BBC Broadcast is Europe’s leading expert in the distribution and promotion of multimedia content. It offers a comprehensive range of services including publishing, promoting and providing access for content across virtually all media, from television to mobile phones.

The Broadcasting Entertainment Cinematograph & Theater Union, which reps the BBC’s technical workers, expressed anger at the contract, which will result in the loss of about 1,000 jobs.

In keeping with a recent BBC pledge to halt further strikes, Creative Broadcast Services said it would respect a moratorium on job losses for a year and will ensure that pension rights are honored.

BBC chief operating officer John Smith said: “Creative Broadcast Services made the BBC a great offer and showed real capabilities in managing a contractual long-term partnership with a commitment to growing and investing in the business.”

The existing management team is expected to transfer to the new owners, and the BBC is certain to be one of its biggest customers.

BBC Broadcast’s annual revenues are about $181 million, but that’s expected to grow as more broadcasters outsource their transmission work. Nowadays that includes a growing range of digital services, including mobile and interactive, alongside traditional transmissions.

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