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UKTV deal could lead to a 60:40 split

A fortnight after a possible split was first reported, a deal could involve a 60:40 break-up of the broadcaster.

Under the potential deal between UKTV's two shareholders, BBC Studios and Discovery, the BBC would pay Discovery £100million in return for securing 60% of UKTV's assets, including TV channels Dave, Drama and Gold, with Discovery taking the remaining 40% and lifestyle channels including Good Food and Home.

That's according to a report in The Times, citing sources close to the broadcaster (paywall, or 29/09/2018 print edition).

The BBC and Discovery currently have a 50:50 share of the broadcaster, which is valued at £1billion. While any payment would leave the BBC open to criticism, the revenue from the channels are expected to cancel out the cost within a year and pave the way for future income for its commercial arm BBC Studios.

As initially reported by The Guardian on 16th September, the break-up of UKTV would help pave the way for the creation of a British rival to Netflix, backed by the main public service broadcasters, as some of the anomalies over broadcasting rights would be resolved - some BBC programmes are licensed for broadcast on UKTV linear channels, while on-demand rights lie elsewhere.

UKTV has its origins in UK Gold, launched in 1992 showing programmes from the BBC and Thames Television archives. UKTV in its current multi-channel form began life in 1997, with the arrival of a four-channel, multi-genre service that later grew to encompass ten channels, half of them available as free-to-air channels.

Any deal would have to be approved by the board of the BBC.

The BBC, Discovery and UKTV have remained tight-lipped over the reports.