BBC to take stake in Mir Reality

Russian production company 'too good to miss'

LONDON The BBC’s commercial arm is in negotiations to take a minority stake in Russian production company Mir Reality for an undisclosed sum.

The move is another sign of BBC Worldwide’s growing ambitions, and follows its purchase of stakes in production companies in the U.K., Canada, Australia and Argentina.

A BBC Worldwide insider says: “Russia is Europe’s fastest-growing media market. We’ve never been able to achieve program sales in quite the way we wanted to in Russia, so this was an opportunity too good to miss.”

Having links with a Moscow-based company is consistent with BBC worldwide policy of setting up local production hubs outside the U.K.

“These can exploit current BBC hits and our archive, and return money back to the license-fee payer which can then be invested in programs,” the insider says.

The shingle will produce a local version of the Beeb’s high-profile motoring show “Top Gear” for REN, one of Russia’s largest private webs.

U.S. and Australian versions of “Top Gear” are already in the pipeline.