BBC to sell Radio Times

Broadcaster looks to sell magazine biz

LONDON — One of the BBC’s most iconic brands, TV listings guide Radio Times, could end up in U.S. hands following the greenlight for the majority sale of BBC Worldwide’s magazine business.

Worldwide, which sees its future in digital media rather than print, is looking for a commercial partner who might buy individual titles outright, take a majority stake in the overall biz, or do a licensing deal with the BBC.

An information memorandum will be published next week to interested parties following approval for the sale from the BBC Trust, the Corp.’s sovereign body.

Analysts estimate that Worldwide’s magazine biz is worth about £180 million ($284 million).

It is understood that at least 30 bidders are interested in considering a bid for what is one of Blighty’s most successful magazine portfolios.

A BBC Worldwide spokeswoman declined to provide any details regarding the identity of likely bidders, but it would be surprising if Time Warner, owners of a big stable of U.K. magazines, is not a potential buyer.

The Radio Times has been owned by the Corp. since its debut in 1923.