Pearson pursues diverse policy with buy of Talkback

Gets youth-oriented upmarket program maker

LONDON — Pearson Television is expected to sign off on a £60 million ($90 million) to $105 million takeover of indie TV company Talkback this week.

The long-anticipated move will make good on chief exec Richard Eyre’s strategy of diversifying Pearson TV’s programming output from mainly soaps and gameshows.

In Talkback — which has been behind comedy fare such as the BBC’s “Never Mind the Buzzcocks” and Channel 4’s “Da Ali G Show” — Pearson will get an upmarket program maker particularly attuned to the youth market.

Talkback is 75%-owned by vet comedians Mel Smith and Griff Rhys-Jones, who co-founded the company. The outfit is expected to top $45 million in sales this year.

Although some observers believe Talkback overpriced, the premium is in line with how European players are currently valuing content providers. Spanish telco Telefonica bought Endemol for $5 billion, for example, far more than anticipated.

Other established British indies considered to be likely targets for acquisition include Hat Trick and Tiger Aspect.

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