Sky buy the Virgin channels

By | Published on Monday 7 June 2010

As expected, BSkyB have bought Virgin’s network of cable TV channels, which include the Living, Challenge, Bravo and Virgin1 brands. Virgin has been talking about selling its wholly owned TV channels for a while now, and Sky have been a preferred bidder for some time.

In fact, Sky and Virgin, who had a very public squabble a few years back, have become best buddies of late, mainly because of the rise of their common enemy, Freeview. The deal will give Sky another slot on the Freeview network, currently occupied by Virgin1, the channel set up by Virgin Media at the height of its falling out with Sky, in response to its satellite rivals taking Sky One off its cable network.

The deal, completed on Friday, is worth £160 million to Virgin. The arrangement also includes a new agreement regarding the provision of Sky’s various channels to Virgin Media cable customers, including, for the first time, Sky’s HD output. The takeover will need regulator approval.

In related news, The Guardian has revealed that Channel Five is now up for sale. It’s been expected for some time that current owners, RTL, would soon look to offload the loss-making network. Sky may bid for that too, though so may ITV and some American TV firms.

Channel 4 has previously been tipped as a possible suitor for Five, though The Guardian has unearthed a clause of the 1990 Broadcasting Act, which has never been repealed, which bans a Four/Five merger. That deal, therefore, would require an act of parliament. Although C4 has not specifically expressed an interest in buying Five, it is a merger that execs on both sides are known to have considered at some point.

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