×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

BBC to buy out int’l partners

Takes sole ownership of BBC World and BBC Prime

LONDON — The British Broadcasting Corp. is poised to take over sole ownership of the international channels BBC World and BBC Prime by buying out its partners Pearson and Cox Communications.

The deal, which will be announced later this week, will effectively see Pearson and Cox write off their investment of around $40 million in European Channel Management, the company that runs the two services.

BBC Worldwide, the pubcaster’s commercial arm that already owns 45% of European Channel, is said to be paying only a nominal sum to acquire Pearson’s 45% stake and the remaining 10% from Cox.

That deal reflects the ongoing financial struggles of the 3-year-old news channel BBC World, which reaches more than 50 million homes in 180 countries via cable, satellite and terrestrial transmission, and the entertainment service BBC Prime, which is restricted to 5.6 million cable homes in Europe.

The buyout comes as the pubcaster finally is making progress with its long-cherished ambitions to launch BBC World in the U.S. market.

After more than a year of tortuous negotiations, the BBC finally has completed its global alliance with Discovery Communications, which is due to be formally unveiled Thursday. As part of the deal, Discovery and leading shareholder Tele-Communications Inc. will give BBC World its Stateside entry.

Other aspects of the alliance include extensive co-productions between the BBC and Discovery, and a commitment to launch joint-venture channels around the world.

But the exit of Pearson and Cox from ECM illustrates how difficult private companies have found it to make commercial partnerships work with the BBC, whose public-service agenda and management ethos complicates its decision-making.

Pearson in particular has long been unhappy with its role in ECM, for which it was expected to provide the bulk of the operating capital without being able to impose an aggressively commercial strategy to recoup its investment.

Pearson’s decision to sell out also fits with its wider strategy to dispose of minority broadcasting investments that do not bring any tangible benefit for its core production business. In the past year, Pearson sold its 10% stake in Hong Kong broadcaster TVB, and half of its 4% stake in U.K. satellite programmer Flextech. Its remaining stake in Flextech, and its small holding in satcaster BSkyB, both are up for sale.

Pearson remains a partner with the BBC in the Australian satellite channel UKTV.

More Biz

  • Lisa Borders Time's Up

    Time's Up President Lisa Borders Resigns

    Lisa Borders has resigned as president of Time’s Up, she and the organization announced on Monday. Borders is resigning due to family issues, she said in a statement. Time’s Up COO Rebecca Goldman will now serve as interim CEO. “As Time’s Up continues to grow, I am proud of the work I have done to [...]

  • Jussie Smollett Good Morning America

    Jussie Smollett Angrily Denies Complicity in Attack

    Attorneys for “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett issued a statement Saturday denying that he orchestrated his Jan. 29 assault, and saying he is “angered” and “devastated” by recent developments in the case. Chicago police want to interview Smollett, after learning new evidence from two Nigerian brothers who were released on Friday night. Local media outlets have [...]

  • Walt Disney Archives Founder Dave Smith

    Walt Disney Archives Founder Dave Smith Dies at 78

    Walt Disney Archives founder Dave Smith, the historian who spent 40 years cataloging and preserving the company’s legacy of entertainment and innovation, died Friday in Burbank, Calif. He was 78. Smith served as Disney’s chief archivist from 1970 to 2010. He was named a Disney Legend in 2007 and served as a consultant to the [...]

  • Colin Kaepernick Kneel

    Colin Kaepernick, Eric Reid Reach Settlement With NFL

    Colin Kaepernick and Eric Reid, two football players who alleged the National Football League colluded to oust them from the game after they started kneeling in protest of racial inequality during the playing of the national anthem, have reached a settlement in the matter, according to a statement from the sports organization and lawyers representing [...]

  • R. Kelly

    R. Kelly Could Be in ‘Big Trouble’ Over Alleged New Sex Tape, Attorney Says

    Strong allegations of sexual misconduct have followed R. Kelly for 25 years, but the singer has always managed to slip free. Yet reports that a videotape of him sexually assaulting an underage girl, combined with the outcry surrounding the Lifetime documentary “Surviving R. Kelly,” means that public sentiment, at the very least, is definitely not [...]

  • Christian Bale as Dick Cheney in

    New Media Residuals and Feature Films Contribute to Spike in Writers' Pay

    The outlook for members of the Writers Guild of America has brightened — even amid pervasive uncertainty in the entertainment industry. According to the most recent report to WGA West members, earnings surged 2.8% to $1.41 billion in 2017, thanks mostly to gains in feature films and new-media residuals. Total covered earnings for WGA West [...]

  • Joe Dante Gremlins

    Hollywood Execs Seek Licensing Deals at the New York Toy Fair

    On Feb. 16 more than 30,000 studio executives, buyers and toy company reps will gather in Manhattan for the annual Toy Fair New York, all vying for market share and trying to snag the latest hot trend in a fast-changing industry. Those working the film side of the business will focus much of their attention [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content