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Scripps ‘offers BBCWW £500m for UKTV’

Scripps Networks International has reportedly offered the BBC as much as £500 million (US$849.2 million) to buy the latter’s commercial arm out of their joint venture channels operator, UKTV.

Jim SamplesA deal would give it full control of 10 channels such as Dave, Watch, Yesterday and Gold.

UK newspaper The Guardian reports Scripps has made “multiple attempts” to convince BBC Worldwide to sell its share in the business, offering around £500 million (US$851 million) as its best offer.

However, BBCWW is not thought to be keen on selling, and the Guardian reports it is, in fact, seeking to up its stake. It previously had an option to up its share in UKTV to 60%, but was unable to finance such a move.

Talks between Scripps and BBCWW are said to have ended for now, but the offers suggest Scripps is still keen on expanding its UK channels business. It was one of the leading contenders for terrestrial Channel 5, but ultimately lost out to Viacom.

US pay TV operator Scripps bought into UKTV in 2011, when it paid Virgin Media £339 million for a 50% stake. Former Turner kids boss Jim Samples (pictured) leads Scripps’ international business, and has overseen acquisitions such as the US$65 million deal for Travel Channel International.

The UKTV business was initially launched as a 50-50 joint venture between the BBC and its founders.

UKTV declined to comment on the report, while Scripps and BBCWW hadn’t responded to requests for comment at press time.