BBC Worldwide announced today it will acquire Australia's subscription-television channel, UK.TV, taking 100% ownership of the channel from July 1st 2008.
As one of three stakeholders in UK.TV (formerly with a 20 per cent share), BBC Worldwide's Channels business has agreed terms with joint partners FOXTEL and FremantleMedia to become the channel's sole owner.
The move forms part of BBC Worldwide Channels strategy to bring the very best of British programming from the BBC and other production houses to a global audience.
In addition, BBC Worldwide has formed a strategic alliance with FOXTEL to roll out three new channels in Australia from its new BBC-branded global portfolio. The first of these is BBC HD, which launched earlier this month as part of the new FOXTEL HD+ service.
In addition, BBC Knowledge and CBeebies will be the first BBC channels to launch on FOXTEL when it gains extra cable and satellite capacity in mid 2009.
BBC World News, the BBC's international 24-hour news channel, which is already available to FOXTEL subscribers, will complete BBC Worldwide's five-channel offering.
Darren Childs, BBC Worldwide Channels' Managing Director, said: "The agreement demonstrates our commitment to Australia and follows the ground-breaking launch of the BBC HD service on FOXTEL – the channel's first launch outside the UK. The Australian market is extremely important to BBC Worldwide; there is a strong affinity to our content that has built up over many years.
"Having five channels will allow us to showcase the breadth and depth of BBC programmes, in many cases for the first time, to Australian audiences. In addition, we will continue to seek new opportunities for future growth in this region.
"We are delighted to be launching two new services in 2009 from our Australian base and believe BBC Knowledge and CBeebies will be as popular with the Australian viewing public as they have with our other global audiences. The channels reflect all that the BBC stands for in originality, quality and entertainment.
"The move to full ownership of UK.TV was an obvious step for BBC Worldwide. The channel's content is synonymous with the BBC’s output and is known and loved in Australia, delivering the best of British television to subscription television viewers."
FOXTEL Chief Executive Kim Williams AM said: "The BBC is an iconic global brand and the world's largest producer of quality television programming, and we are delighted BBC Worldwide has chosen FOXTEL as its long-term Australian partner in subscription television.
"British programming is extremely popular with Australian audiences and this agreement will provide our subscribers with access to the best of BBC Worldwide's outstanding portfolio of global channels and extensive catalogue of exceptional quality programming.
"Our subscribers already enjoy the existing UK.TV and BBC World News channels and the exciting new BBC HD channel. Now from mid 2009 we are committed to launching BBC Knowledge and the unique children’s service CBeebies."
UK.TV will become part of BBC Worldwide, which already has an established presence in Australia. Its head office in Sydney focuses on TV Sales, Content and Production, Digital Media, Home Entertainment and Magazines, and it maintains a substantial operation in Melbourne through the acquisition of Lonely Planet.
Notes to Editors:
FOXTEL is Australia's leading subscription television provider and is connected to more than 1.5 million homes on cable and satellite through retail and wholesale distribution. FOXTEL strives to ensure subscribers find TV they want to watch every time they switch on through delivery of more than 100 channels covering news, sport, general entertainment, movies, documentaries, music and children's programming. FOXTEL is owned by Telstra Corporation Ltd (50%), The News Corporation Ltd (25%), and Consolidated Media Holdings Limited (25%).
BBC Knowledge draws on the vast production resource and accumulated library of acclaimed documentary and non-fiction programming from the world’s largest producer of factual content.
CBeebies, a commercial-free channel for pre-school children, is the number one children's channel in the UK. Committed to programming that encourages pre-schoolers to learn through play in a consistent and safe environment, CBeebies will be one of the central elements of FOXTEL’s expanded digital offering in 2009.
About BBC World News
BBC World News, the BBC's commercially funded international 24-hour news and information channel, is owned and operated by BBC World Ltd, a member of the BBC's commercial group of companies.
BBC World News attracts 78 million viewers a week, is available in more than 200 countries and territories worldwide, and reaches 283 million households and more than 1.5 million hotel rooms.
The channel's content is also available on 57 cruise ships, 42 airlines, 35 mobile phone networks and a number of major online platforms including bbc.com/news. For further information on how to receive BBC World News, download schedules or find out more about the channel, visit bbcworld.com.
UK.TV delivers the best contemporary British programming to Australian and New Zealand subscription television audiences. This unrivalled line-up of hilarious comedies, compelling drama and the highly addictive British soaps is acquired from a variety of distributors to create a unique destination for lovers of British entertainment.
Locally managed in Australia, UKTV is wholly owned by BBC Worldwide Limited, the main commercial arm and wholly owned subsidiary of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC).