U.S. operator buying 50% share owned by Virgin Media

U.S. TV channels operator Scripps Network Interactive has agreed to buy a 50% stake in U.K. pay TV company UKTV in a deal worth £339 million ($556 million).

Virgin Media will sell its stake in UKTV, which is 50% owned by BBC Worldwide.

The deal, which needs to be approved by the governments of Ireland and Jersey, includes a payment of about $164 million for the outstanding preferred stocks and debt that UKTV owes Virgin Media.

UKTV airs 10 lifestyle and entertainment channels — including guys’ channel Dave and historical docu and drama channel Yesterday — with a total 36 million viewers a month.

“UKTV is a significant opportunity for Scripps Networks Interactive to participate in a thriving multi-channel, dual revenue stream media business in one of the world’s largest television markets,” said Kenneth W. Lowe, Scripps’ chairman, president and CEO.

BBC Worldwide wants to up its stake to 60% and is offering Scripps a combination of cash and a package of digital rights for the 10%.

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