Specialist US private equity group TH Lee Global Internet Managers (known as THLi) is to take a 13.5% holding in Beeb Ventures, the newly launched commercial internet development arm of the British Broadcasting Corporation.

The deal, announced yesterday, injects £32.5m ($48.75m) into the business and values it at £240 million ($358m). It also signals a forceful new marketing policy for Beeb Ventures’ key brands – Freebeeb.net, a pay-as-you-go internet service provider, and the Beeb.com shopping portal which exploits such BBCTV products as car programme Top Gear, chart music show Top of the Pops, Gardener’s World and TV and radio listing publication Radio Times.

Anxious to preserve the politically delicate no-go line between the BBC’s public service broadcasting remit and its fast expanding commercial activities, chief executive of BBC Worldwide, Rupert Gavin, said yesterday: "There is complete clarity as to when you are moving from a public service content offering to a commercial area. We are on a path to an increasing number of partnerships and it is important to bring in complementary skills but at the same time preserve our editorial values which are sacrosanct."

News source: Financial Times