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Discovery buys BBC stake in channels

Animal Planet and Liv deal worth $156 million

Discovery Communications is buying BBC Worldwide’s 50% stake in its global channels Animal Planet and Liv for $156 million.

This gives Discovery outright ownership of Animal Planet, which is available in more than 170 countries in Europe, Asia and Latin America, and Liv, which goes to 33 Latin American markets.

Negotiations to dispose of BBC Worldwide’s stake in the channels were prompted by the BBC Trust’s review of the Beeb’s commercial arm. The conclusion a year ago was that it should sell stakes in non-BBC-branded international channels and focus on its wholly owned channels.

BBC Worldwide is aggressively expanding its BBC Entertainment, BBC Knowledge and CBeebies webs around the world — especially in more mature Western countries such as Germany, France and Italy — as well as expanding in the U.S., where it broadcasts BBC America.

In a statement BBC Worldwide CEO John Smith said: “The launch and growth of BBC-branded international channels is an important strategic priority for BBC Worldwide and the sale of the 50% interest in Animal Planet and Liv will enable us to bring increased focus to these fast-growing channels, and to progress a number of other strategic priorities.”

Discovery and BBC Worldwide also extended their long-running co-production agreement by two more years to 2014.

The partnership has generated high-end content including “Life,” “Planet Earth,” “Blue Planet” and “Wonders of the Solar System.”

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