Channel 4-BBC deal 'likely within weeks'

Andy Duncan, CEO, Channel 4 Channel 4 chief executive Andy Duncan has told MPs that he expects to have an agreement on a partnership with BBC Worldwide signed within weeks. 

Duncan told the culture, media and sport committee that both the channel and BBC Worldwide, the commercial arm of the BBC, were enthusiastic about forming a "headline" understanding of how the deal would work. 

BBC Worldwide is the commercial arm of the BBC that exploits the corporation's content through magazines such as Top Gear and the Radio Times and sells programme formats such as Strictly Come Dancing Abroad.

Channel 4, which is publicly owned but funded by advertising, has said it could be running an annual loss of £150 million a year by 2012.

The deal has the approval of the UK government with the media regulator having said in a report in January that Channel 4 could form partnerships with BBC Worldwide as it battles falling advertising revenues and structural changes in the industry.

Communications minister Lord Carter's interim Digital Britain report released earlier in January 2009 suggested that a new, enlarged public service broadcaster could be created, with Channel 4 at its heart, as a means of providing public service content beyond the BBC. (See: British government favours Channel 4's merger with BBC)