BSkyB bids big for Virgin’s channels
Virgin Media’s portfolio of VMtv niche channels has been up for sale since March, and now has an enthusiastic bunch of potential buyers looking for acquisitions. BSkyB is currently reported to be leading the pack that includes Time Warner, Channel 4, RTL and NBC-Universal.
BSkyB is reported by London’s Financial Times to be the lead bidder having tendered £160m ($255m), said to be some 60% ahead of the next bid. Virgin’s channels include a pair of Bravo channels (unrelated to the US Bravo Channel), Living/Living 2, Challenge and Challenge Jackpot and flagship channel Virgin 1.
The FT suggests that there is no guarantee that cableco Virgin will sell its channels to BSkyB, its fiercest rival. There’s also no guarantee that the UK’s competition authorities will green light a bid, given that it would reinforce the frequent claim that Sky is “dominating” UK broadcasting.
However, this sale is a precursor to another, not dissimilar sale, comprising Virgin’s 50% of the UKTV bundle of channels, which comprise ‘Dave’ and ‘Gold’, and where the remaining 50% is held by BBC Worldwide.