BBC Worldwide to exit print magazines

BBC Worldwide, a wholly owned commercial unit of the British Broadcasting Corporation, yesterday said that it will sell its magazine business to Exponent Private Equity and its stake in Worldwide Media to Mumbai-based Bennett, Coleman & Co, for £121 million ($198 million).

London-based Exponent Private Equity has acquired and signed a licensing agreement to publish the titles currently published by BBC Magazines and BBC Worldwide's consumer magazines business.

"The deal announced today offers the best prospects for the magazines business to continue on this path of success, while BBC Worldwide pursues a strategy increasingly focused on international video and digital services," said the BBC Worldwide chief executive, John Smith. "The consumer magazines market faces a number of challenges, and this transaction brings a focus and degree of investment that BBC Worldwide alone is unable to provide."

BBC Magazines, the UK's fourth-largest publisher by circulation, publishes over 50 popular consumer titles including Top Gear, Radio Times, BBC Good Food and Gardeners' World.

BBC Magazines also has 43 licensed editions of its titles in over 55 territories. In addition, BBC Magazines has joint venture publishing partnerships in India with The Times of India Group, and in Australia with ACP.

Under the terms of the deal, Exponent will acquire Radio Times and other magazines "less closely aligned to the BBC" such as Olive and Gardens Illustrated, and the rights to publish BBC-branded titles under licensing agreement that include Gardeners' World, BBC Wildlife, with BBC Worldwide not retaining ownership but keeping a continuing editorial interest under licensing agreements.