Virgin Media exits TV by selling stake in UKTV to Scripps in a £339 million deal

Virgin Media yesterday said it is selling its 50-per cent stake in UKTV to US operator Scripps Networks Interactive, in a £339 million deal that ends the company's nearly 15 years stint in television content.

The deal will give the BBC's commercial arm, BBC Worldwide owning the remaining 50 per cent stake, and the chance to increase its holding up to 60 per cent in a complex transaction through a combination of cash and digital rights.

The sale comes after Virgin, which runs broadband, cable and phone services in the UK, sold a portfolio of its own channels, which included Bravo and Virgin 1, for £160 million to rival Sky last year.

UKTV was formed in 1997 as a joint venture between the BBC and ITV venture Thames Television, primarily to show BBC repeats on UK Gold. UKTV attracts about 36 million viewers a month across its portfolio of 10 lifestyle, entertainment and non-fiction programming channels.

UKTV brands include Home, Good Food, Dave, Watch, GOLD, Alibi, Eden, Blighty, Yesterday and Really. UKTV also operates complementary websites for each channel brand.

Under the deal, Scripps will pay approximately £239 million for Virgin Media's 50 per cent stake in UKTV and also will pay about £100 million debt owed by UKTV to Virgin Media.