BBC invites Time Warner, Disney, Bertelsmann for BBC Worldwide sale

MUMBAI: The BBC is looking to sell its commercial sales and publishing division BBC Worlwide. For this purpose it has invited bids from Time Warner, Disney and Germany's Bertelsmann.

A report in The Financial Times has indicated that executives from the three parties will to hold talks with the BBC in the coming weeks.

Assets up for grabs include the BBC America and BBC Prime channels, along with 26 magazine titles, merchandising operations and the broadcaster's overseas programme sales unit.

However BBC DG Mark Thompson has played down the likelihood of BBC Worldwide being privatised. "We are looking at BBC Worldwide with open minds. But it is not a foregone conclusion that we are talking about large-scale sell-offs" Thompson said in an interview published in the Independent.

The question that arises as regards India is how the sale will affect the deal that BBC Worldwide hatched earlier this year with The Times Of India Group.

The 50:50 JV that had been announced in April was to produce and market magazines from both companies in India. However in a recent interview with Times Group.president Arun Arora said that the deal was awaiting government clearance.

As far as the proposed sale is concerned it is being considered as part of an internal review following the fallout from last year's Hutton inquiry report. BBC executives believe that the Worldwide division could be worth up to $3.55 billion. BBC Worldwide employs 2,200 people. The sale could result in layoffs.

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