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BBC commercial arm poised to buy all of UKTV?

The BBC's commercial arm is reportedly considering an option to buy out all of UKTV, the broadcaster behind channels including Dave and Gold.

Currently, UKTV is operated as a 50:50 joint venture between BBC commercial subsidiary BBC Worldwide and US media company Scripps Networks Interactive. Scripps is currently in the process of being taken over by Discovery.

The Daily Telegraph reports that under a clause in the contract with Scripps, shoukd Scripps sell up to another company, BBC Worldwide has first refusal over the 50% stake it doesn't own. Buying the remaining part of UKTV would cost around £500million, according to reports. Money would be raised through private investment.

The origins of the company date back to 1992, when the BBC and Thames launched UK Gold. UKTV launched as a multi-channel operator twenty years ago this month, originally with UK Style, UK Horizons, UK Arena and UK Gold. Now, the broadcaster's portfolio of channels includes free-to-air broadcasters Dave, Really, Yesterday, Drama and Home and pay TV channels Gold, W, alibi, Eden and Good Food. Originally set up to recycle mostly BBC programmes, many of the channels have in recent years moved towards broadcasting more original and acquired programmes alongside repeats, a move that has seen increased viewing figures and market share.

BBC Worldwide's income is drived from sales of BBC shows on commercial platforms and international broadcasters. Money earned by the business, including a share of profits from UKTV's channels is returned to the BBC adding an extra revenue stream to support licence fee funding.

Neither Scripps or BBC Worldwide have commented on the reports.