Pay TV platform nabs 187 hours of programs

Pay TV content provider UKTV has signed a landmark deal giving it access for the first time to Channel 4 shows.

The two-year deal, which starts in August, gives UKTV multichannel broadcast rights to 187 hours of programs, including high-end drama, comedy and entertainment.

Much of the material, which includes 17 dramas ranging from the 9/11-centered “Hamburg Cell” to costumer saga “Anna Karenina,” is being licensed to pay TV for the first time.

The content deal will help UKTV raise its game in an increasingly competitive market and give cash-strapped Channel 4 some welcome revenue.

It is especially significant because the move suggests how Channel 4 and BBC Worldwide, which co-owns UKTV with Virgin Media, could work together.

In recent months, C4 and BBCW have been in talks about a potential partnership and the government indicated last month it would make credit available to help facilitate a tie-up.

UKTV, whose success has been built on its exclusive secondary rights to BBC shows, recently re-branded its 10 channels.

Virgin Media is keen to sell its stake in UKTV. Likely buyers are believed to include BSkyB.

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