BSkyB mulls move into int’l sales

Company to spend $925 mil a year on shows

LONDON — U.K. pay TV giant BSkyB is considering a move into international TV distribution possibly via an inhouse unit or acquiring an indie sales operation.

The news comes as the News Corp.-controlled satcaster continues to invest heavily in U.K. content across a range of genres.

A spokesman said, “As we continue to increase investment in U.K. production, a natural step for us is to consider how we might create more value for our production partners and Sky through international distribution — and to give our homegrown content the best opportunity to compete globally.

“We are looking at a range of options, but have no firm plans in place just yet.”

While it is unclear how much BSkyB is investing in U.K. shows annually, Rupert Murdoch’s paybox has pledged to spend £600 million ($925 million) a year by 2014, a figure it claims is more than either Channel 4 or Channel 5 spend on local productions.

Latterly BSkyB has gained kudos by commissioning a hefty slate of U.K. comedies, including “Alan Partridge,” starring Steve Coogan, and dramas like “Sinbad,” a co-production between Impossible Pictures and BBC Worldwide.

At present these are distributed by a range of third-party sales combos, including BBC Worldwide. It may be a challenge for Sky to form its own distribution arm immediately as many of its shows are tied up with sales companies.