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Discovery, BBC Close Deal to Split UKTV Channels

Discovery has added a raft of U.K. lifestyle channels to its lineup, and BBC Studios a cluster of entertainment offerings, after the pair completed their UKTV deal.

The UKTV channels group was originally a joint venture between Scripps and BBC Studios, the British pubcaster’s commercial arm. The deal to untangle ownership of the networks in the group came after Discovery became a partner in UKTV by way of acquiring Scripps. The plan to split the channels between the partners was announced in April.

The UKTV deal sees BBC Studios pay U.S.-listed Discovery £173 million ($220 million) for full ownership of entertainment nets Alibi, Dave, Drama, Eden, Gold, W and Yesterday. It also gets the UKTV brand, and the on-demand service UKTV Play. Discovery takes full control of lifestyle channels Really, Home and Good Food.

“UKTV has always been an important part of the BBC Group, creating value for license-fee payers and British program makers,” said Marcus Arthur, who was named president for the U.K., Ireland, and Australasia at BBC Studios in a management rejig last year. He will be at the helm of UKTV as part of his wider role. Previous CEO Darren Childs stepped down in February.

Several of the UKTV channels rely heavily on BBC catalogue programming, but the network has also moved into original commissioning in recent times, announcing three new shows this week. BBC Studios said it would continue to back UKTV’s content strategy.

“UKTV’s award-winning brands, innovative commissions and premium acquisitions have delivered large and loyal audiences who love great TV,” Arthur said. “As a wholly-owned part of BBC Studios, we will support its future content ambitions, building on its history of success over many years.”

James Gibbons, EVP and general manager for the U.K. and Australasia at Discovery, said: “Today marks an exciting milestone for Discovery, as we welcome UKTV’s lifestyle channels to our substantial U.K. portfolio. We are committed to deepening our position with viewers as the leader in real-life entertainment by building great brands that power people’s passions and deliver value to our partners.”

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