Virgin Media to Sell Content Arm

25 February 2009

LONDON: Virgin Media, the UK cable services provider, is again looking to sell its loss-making content arm – which includes ad sales unit IDS and a 50% stake in UKTV, a joint venture with the BBC – with initial estimates valuing the division at £500 million.

Virgin Media's content operations made revenues of £31 million ($44.7m; €35.1m) in Q3 last year, up 14% year-on-year, and the company was also previously involved in a long-running dispute with its main rival, BSkyB, over carriage fees.

Possible buyers of Virgin Media Television's content arm – which features channels including Virgin1, Living, Bravo and Challenge – include BSkyB, NBC Universal, RTL Group and Channel 4.

One potential difficulty in any takeover is that the proposed tie-up between BBC Worldwide and Channel 4, in which the latter could takeover certain aspects of IDS's ad sales activity relating to UKTV to bolster its position in the market.

Data sourced from Media Week; additional content by WARC staff