BBC 'looks to retain ownership of key magazine titles'

Despite offering to sell off its magazine division last year, BBC Worldwide is planning to retain ownership and control over a number of leading titles, according to a report this morning.

Sources told the Daily Telegraph the BBC has proposed dividing its titles into three blocks; one of which would be sold, including titles like the Radio Times, another would see BBC branded magazines licensed to a rival publisher for ten years.

A third block would see titles tied to popular brands, like Top Gear, produced under a contract-publishing deal with the corporation maintaining ownership while a new publishing board would be formed to take decisions.

Last year, it was understood that the corporation’s preferred course of action was to sell its magazine business to a single publisher by forming a new business with the partner organisation taking an 85 per cent majority share.

BBC Magazines runs a portfolio of around 30 mainly spin-off titles from popular television shows and uses its magazines and events to heavily cross-promote programmes. Events are also used to promote magazines and vise versa.

According to the Telegraph report, this cross-promotion may have been a stumbling block.

Several large magazine businesses, including Bauer, are believed to still be in the running to run BBC titles. However, after showing initial interest it seems Hearst-owned NatMag is no longer in the running.

Hearst has now turned its attentions to acquiring France’s Lagadere – owner of Elle publisher Hachette UK – which has put all its international magazines up for sale.

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