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BSkyB buy Virgin Media Television

June 4th, 2010
Rupert Murdoch

Rupert Murdoch, Chairman and CEO of News Corporation

It was confirmed today that the much-anticipated sale of the Virgin Media Television portfolio of channels to BSkyB has been agreed. The £160m deal will create a multichannel powerhouse, combining the likes of Living and Bravo with Sky 1.

Jeremy Darroch, BSkyB chief executive, called Virgin Media Television “an attractive investment opportunity which complements our existing content business and delivers strategic and financial benefits”.

Sky will pay £105m up front on completion of the deal, with the remainder to follow completion of the regulatory process. The acquisition will need to be cleared by competition regulators in the UK and Ireland, reports The Guardian suggest.

Content from Sky’s basic and premium channels and the VMTV services will be available through Virgin Media’s on-demand service. Virgin Media will also have access to Sky Sports’ red button interactive coverage and be able to deliver some Sky programming over the internet.

And in another story across town – focusing on media empires – Richard Desmond told BBC Radio 4 he wanted to expand his media empire and had £1bn to spend. These are some very deep pockets indeed. He said he was “definitely not” interested in buying the Mirror or the Daily Telegraph, but when asked if he would like to buy The Sun he replied: “Work it out for yourself.” The BBC’s Nick Cosgrove said of Desmond, “He is one of the most controversial newspaper barons Britain has ever produced.

Neil Berkett, chief executive of Virgin Media, said of the sale, “The sale of our channels business has generated substantial value. Together with the new commercial agreements we’ve announced today, it will allow us to focus more closely on our strategy of exploiting Virgin Media’s super-fast connectivity to offer our customers a range of the very best content through a highly versatile next generation entertainment application.”

So as the Murdochs increase their empire there could well be competition from Desmond, however Rupert Murdoch, who owns The Sun – the most popular newspaper in Britain – has given no sign that he wants to sell up.

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