The BBC has placed adverts in the Financial Times and the UK trade magazine Broadcast announcing the sale of its subsidiary BBC Broadcast.
BBC Broadcast provides channel playout and promotion services to the BBC and other clients, including UKTV, the BBC’s joint venture with Flextech. It claims to have the most advanced playout facility in Europe, capable of delivering content across all media, from television to mobile phones.
BBC Broadcast Limited was incorporated as a separate commercial subsidiary in April 2002.
“The sale of BBC Broadcast is a great opportunity for the business to grow outside the constraints of being owned by a public service broadcaster, giving access to capital to enable the business to grow,” said Pam Masters, managing director of BBC Broadcast.
It follows the sell-off of sister subsidiary BBC Technology to Siemens last year, with included a contract to supply services to the BBC worth almost £2 billion over ten years.
The BBC Broadcast sale is on a smaller scale, and is thought to be worth upwards of £100 million.
The company made an operating profit of £7.3 million on a turnover of £106.7 million in the year ending April 2004, handing back £3.5 million to the BBC as shareholder after tax.
Following an internal review of its commercial businesses, the corporation concluded that the company did not necessarily need to remain owned by the BBC and that a new owner would provide the business with new opportunities for growth.
Potential purchasers of BBC Broadcast could include Siemens, Thomson, BT, transmission company Crown Castle, a joint partner in Freeview, or Macquarie, which now controls the ntl Broadcast business. Other companies that have been linked to the sale include rival playout provider Ascent Media Group and advertising agency WPP, with the latter likely to be interested in the creative services division which provides channel branding and promotions.
There have also been rumours that a management buyout is planned, although this seems to be an unlikely outcome.