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BBC secures 7 UKTV channels from Discovery

BBC wrests control of UKTV in £180m Discovery deal

BBC Studios has won control of UKTV, taking ownership of seven of its ten free-to-air and pay-TV channels. These channels will serve as platforms for BBC shows to live on after they debut on the BBC.

Under the deal, reportedly its biggest ever, BBC Studios will take the helm of seven free-to-air and pay-TV channels including Dave and Gold which have carved out a profitable niche via broadcast of evergreen BBC hits from yesteryears such as Blackadder and Only Fools and Horses.

The deal, valued at £180m, is partly funded by a content partnership with co-owner Discovery. The BBC will license its natural history output like Planet Earth for use by the US pay-TV provider to use for the next decade.

For its part, Discovery will obtain the rights to Good Food, Home and Really.

The deal represents a significant financial boost for the BBC as it seeks to plug a £754m black hole in its coffers owing to changes to the license fee, with UKTV profits jumping by £29m to £90m over the past eight years, valuing the business at £750m.

BBC director general Tony Hall said: “BBC Studios taking control of the UKTV channels that best fit our programmes is good news,” said Tony Hall, the BBC director general. “It means a secure future with long-term commercial returns.”

The BBC was forced to deploy a mix of cash, debt and content to achieve its goal without the financial muscle to purchase the service outright. This saw it hand over £100m in cash and shoulder £70m of UKTV debt, topped up by a further £10m share of UK TV’s current dividend.

Other options under consideration had included the BBC entering into a £1bn joint venture with ITV to acquire UKTV.

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