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Virgin Media puts Dave and Gold on the block

BBC in the frame for UKTV

Isn't it funny how core businesses stop being core when you are making a loss?

This is the case for Virgin Media, the cable TV operator, which is loaded down with almost £6bn in debt. Now it wants to sell off its half share in 10 digital TV channels, including Dave and Gold, and aims to raise at least £350m from the disposal, the Sunday Times reports.

The channels are part of UKTV, which is jointly owned by the BBC.

With the sale of UKTV, Virgin Media will become a pure play telecoms company, straddling cable TV and landlines, broadband and mobile.

The BBC is said to have first refusal over the purchase and could certainly afford to buy out Virgin Media. But politically this may be a poor move, at a time, when the Corporation is under fire from all sides for profligacy.

The Sunday Times also names Channel 4 and BSkyB as potential buyers.

Virgin and Sky have fought long and hard over access fees for channels on each other's platforms. They kissed and made up in June, when Virgin sold some TV channels to BSkyB for £160m and waived so called carriage fees for running Sky programmes.

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