Up to 50 staff may be pink-slipped

LONDON — U.K. satcaster BSkyB is to close webs Bravo and Channel One following the regulatory green-light for its acquisition of Virgin Media Television, owners of the Living TV Group.

Up to 50 staff face being pink-slipped as a result of the channels being axed.

It is unclear if Johnny Webb and Claudia Rosencrantz, respectively managing director and director of TV at Living TV Group, will remain on board.

The most successful of the former Virgin-owned channels is the Living channel, whose shows include dramas “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Cougar Town,” and reality hit “Four Weddings.”

The paybox signalled it will increase Living’s budget by 25%, some of which looks likely to be spent on U.S. shows.

Sophie Turner- Laing, managing director of entertainment, news and broadcast operations at BSkyB, said: “Content is at the heart of Sky’s strategy. Living is already one of the best pay TV channels around and is obviously a great fit with our existing channels like Sky 1.

“There is so much potential for further development and we intend to increase on-screen investment in Living by around a quarter as part of our expanded channel portfolio.”

Living TV Group employs around 110 staff, but there will only be 58 roles once integration into the Sky channels portfolio is complete.

However, it is believed that there are a significant number of jobs potentially available in other parts of the BSkyB operation.

The paybox is keen to beef up Living because it appeals to a predominantly female audience, whereas Bravo, in common with Sky 1, is more male-skewed.

BSkyB paid £160 million ($94 million) for the seven Virgin channels.

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