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C4 nabs BBC’s Bake Off

The Great British Bake Off

The Great British Bake Off

Channel 4 in the UK has taken rights to ratings smasher The Great British Bake Off after the BBC lost the contract to air the show following disagreements over price.

The bakery format, from UK-based Love Productions, has become one of the BBC’s key shows over recent years and the debut of its seventh season that started last month attracted more than 10 million viewers.

However, the future of the show on the BBC had been in doubt for some time with Love Productions, which is majority owned by the sales arm of satcaster Sky, and the BBC in talks over its future for almost 12 months.

Yesterday it emerged those talks had failed and Love then revealed it had agreed a three-year deal with rival broadcaster C4, which will start its tenure by airing a celebrity version of Bake Off in 2017.

Jay Hunt, C4’s chief creative officer, said she was “delighted we have been able to partner with the hugely talented team at Love Productions to keep this much loved show on free-to-air television.”

Richard McKerrow, Love Productions creative director, added: “We believe we’ve found the perfect new home for Bake Off. It’s a public service, free-to-air broadcaster for whom Love Productions have produced high-quality and highly successful programmes for more than a decade.

Jay Hunt collects C4's Channel of the Year Award

Jay Hunt collects C4’s Channel of the Year Award

“It’s tremendously exciting to have found a broadcaster who we know will protect and nurture The Great British Bake Off for many years to come.”

In an email circulated to its staff, Love added that the negotiations had “never been about who might write the biggest cheque but about where we can find the best home for Bake Off.

“Unfortunately, we were unable to agree either a fair valuation, nor were the BBC able to provide the necessary comfort for the future protection of such a distinctive and much-loved television series.”

The BBC had earlier said it hoped Love would change its mind over the “quintessentially BBC programme” and reports have claimed the pubcaster offered around £13m (US$17m) to keep the show and spin-offs, around four times its current deal but substantially less than the estimated £25m agreement struck with C4.

“Working with Love Productions, we have grown and nurtured the programme over seven seasons and created the huge hit it is today,” the pubcaster said.

“We made a very strong offer to keep the show but we are a considerable distance apart on the money. The BBC’s resources are not infinite.”

It is not clear whether the UK show’s judges Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry, nor its hosts Sue Perkins and Mel Giedroyc, will be moving to C4 and numerous reports suggested its stars had not been consulted during the negotiations.

The BBC started life on BBC2 before being promoted to flagship BBC1 in 2014. A junior version has also been launched on kids channel CBBC and the format has sold around the world.

The finished UK programme, which has been a hit worldwide including in the US where it airs on PBS, is sold by BBC Worldwide along with the format.

It’s the latest blow for the cash-strapped pubcaster, which last year lost its singing competition format The Voice to ITV to avoid getting into a bidding war for the show.

The fifth season of the Saturday night show, which debuted early 2016, will be the last on BBC1.

  

 

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