BBC sells Radio Times as part of £121m sell-off

Radio Times Radio Times will be sold off

BBC Magazines has agreed to sell the Radio Times to Exponent, a company whose assets include the website thetrainline.com.

BBC Magazines will also sell 10 non-BBC branded titles including Gardens Illustrated and Olive to Exponent.

Other BBC titles, including Top Gear, Gardeners' World and Lonely Planet will be published by Exponent under licence.

BBC Magazines was put up for sale in September as part of BBC Worldwide's plans to focus more on digital media.

BBC Magazines is part of the BBC's commercial arm, BBC Worldwide.

Most of the proceeds from the sale will go back to the BBC to help it invest in content at a time when its licence fee has been frozen.

Exponent, which owns a diverse range of businesses including handbags, used to own the Times Educational Supplement.

International focus

The final agreement needs Office of Fair Trading approval but is expected to go through in the autumn, when most BBC Magazines staff will transfer to the new company.

At the same time, BBC Worldwide's 50% shareholding in Indian joint venture, Worldwide Media Ltd, which distributes Grazia and Hello magazines in India and which BBC Worldwide were urged to offload following the strategy review, is being sold to Times of India owner Bennett, Coleman and Co.

John Smith, the chief executive of BBC Worldwide said: "The deal announced today offers the best prospects for the magazines business to continue on this path of success, while BBC Worldwide pursues a strategy increasingly focused on international video and digital services."

Although headline sales were marginally down over the last year, profits for BBC Magazines were up by 9%, or £1.8m, with strong subscription figures and growth from specialist titles such as Good Food and Olive.

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