BBC to sell off magazine business to focus on digital

16 Aug 2011

BBC Worldwide will sell its magazine business to private equity firm Exponent for stg£121m in order to focus on its international video and digital offerings.

The Guardian reports that John Smith, BBC Worldwide CEO, said the consumer magazine market was facing “a number of challenges” and that the transaction brings a focus and investment that the BBC can’t provide alone.

He said it would offer “the best prospects” for the magazine business as BBC Worldwide’s strategy becomes more focused on “international video and digital services.”

The deal’s completion will see the “majority” of BBC’s magazine staff move to Exponent. It is expected to be finalised in autumn.

Exponent will own 34 publications from BBC Magazines, including Radio Times, which was established in 1923. The private equity firm has acquired all non-BBC branded magazines, along with the rights to publish BBC-branded titles.

BBC Worldwide will keep a “strong continuing editorial interest under licensing agreements” for its branded titles.

Magazines such as Top Gear, Good Food and Lonely Planet will be retained by BBC Worldwide but will be published by Exponent under contract.

The acquisition includes stakes in subscription operation Dovetail and distribution firm Frontline.

BBC Worldwide will also sell 50pc of its shareholding in Worldwide Media, a magazine company in India, to shareholder Bennett, Coleman & Co Ltd.