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Sky closes in on VMtv acquisition

UK pay-TV operator BSkyB is close to buying rival Virgin Media’s TV channels including Virgin 1, Bravo, Challenge and Living, according to a report in the Guardian newspaper.

Virgin Media’s wholly owned channels division Virgin Media Television (VMtv) is in the final stages of selling its channels to Sky. They were valued at £500m (€575m) when they were put on the market, although this value is likely to have since dropped. VMtv’s revenues for 2008 were £121.8m but are likely to be higher for 2009. The 2008 figure was impacted by a carriage dispute with Sky that saw the satellite broadcaster pay just €6m for VMtv’s channels. That figure will have risen to at least £30m.

Virgin Media is also in talks with Channel 4 about selling its 50% stake in pay-TV channels joint venture UKTV, which it owns with BBC Worldwide, although negotiations are believed to have stalled recently.