BBC Worldwide, the commercial wing of the corporation, is to press ahead with the partial sell-off of its magazine business, which publishes titles including the Radio Times and Top Gear magazines.
The planned sale was give the green light yesterday by the corporation’s governing body, The BBC Trust, after it completed first-stage discussions with bosses from its magazine division over the potential sale.
BBC Magazines will now make contact with potential buyers next week asking them to make formal expressions of interest before Christmas.
Peter Phippen, managing director of BBC Magazines, sent an email memo to staff this morning telling them the business hoped to have a decision on its future by the end of this financial year in March. However, he warned the process could take longer.
‘It’s inevitable that speculation about a potential deal will continue for many monthsâ€¦..and some of it will be inaccurate,’Phippen said.
‘Due to its confidential nature, I’m not going to be able to disclose details about who we are in discussions with, or the precise shape of any deal, but I promise to update you as much as I possibly can over the coming months.”
BBC Magazines runs a portfolio of around 30 mainly spin-off titles from popular television shows. In April, it emerged that the corporation was looking for a partner organisation to help run its magazine business as part of a massive overhaul of BBC output.
The corporation’s preferred course of action is to sell its magazine business to a single publisher. One option could see it form a new business with the partner organisation taking a majority share.
BBC Magazines, which is the fourth biggest magazine publisher in the UK, increased its pre-tax profits to £18.4m in its last financial year on turnover of £168.3m.