The BBC has announced the shortlist of bidders for the sale of its promotion and playout subsidiary BBC Broadcast, which among other things manages the delivery of interactive television services for the BBC and other clients.
The four companies that have been selected to enter the final stage are Apax Partners, Exponent Private Equity, Macquarie Group and Thomson/Technicolor.
Former BBC director general Greg Dyke is understood to be acting as an adviser to Apax partners, the largest venture capital investor in Europe. He has also been linked to a possible bid for the leading UK commercial broadcaster ITV plc.
Exponent Private Equity is a private equity firm founded by four former executives of the 3i venture capital company.
The Macquarie Group is an Australian based banking group. The group purchased ntl:Broadcast, the broadcast transmission arm of ntl for £1.27 billion at the end of 2004.
Technicolor is part of Thomson, the French media and entertainment services group. Its activities include transmission playout to multiple distribution platforms and it is the only trade buyer to be short-listed.
Ascent Media, a division of the Liberty Media group, was not among those companies to go forward from the original long list.
The sale of BBC Broadcast is expected to be completed by the end of the summer, subject to relevant approvals.
BBC Broadcast employees were among thousands of BBC staff involved in industrial action this week in protest against proposed job losses in the organisation. The BBC has agreed to meet representatives of the unions at the arbitration service ACAS.
The BBC says that in the next decade the broadcasting landscape faces revolutionary change.
The BBC chairman, Michael Grade, was responding to the Government’s Green Paper on the future of the corporation. He observed that new platforms, including on-demand delivery via broadband, have the potential to transform the media landscape. He said it is vital the BBC remains agile and able to respond flexibly to new ways that licence-fee payers wish to enjoy BBC content.
Mark Thompson, the BBC director general, said that “It will not be possible to deliver the BBC we’ve talked about without quite radical change”.