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AMC eyes stake in BBC America

AMC Networks is in discussions to take a substantial stake in BBC America, the US network owned and operated by BBC Worldwide (BBCWW) that airs Doctor Who and Orphan Black.

AMC is looking to acquire almost 50% of the network in a deal that would enable BBCWW to make use of the US company’s advertising and distribution network. The talks, which have been ongoing for several months, were first reported by Bloomberg.

BBCWW would continue to control the channel’s operations but could also benefit from the expertise of AMC’s programming team, while the arrangement would also improve the US firm’s negotiating position for carriage fees.

The two firms are well-acquainted with each other, having worked together on Top of the Lake and spy thriller The Honourable Woman, which is set to debut on AMC’s Sundance TV tomorrow.

BBC America was launched in 1998 and currently airs shows including Doctor Who, Top Gear and Musketeers to around 80 million US households. AMC is best known for its drama series mad Men, Breaking Bad and The Walking Dead.

The deal would continue the expansion strategy of AMC which last year paid US$1bn to Liberty Global for its international channels and content business Chellomedia.

It would also be the latest consolidation amongst pay TV operators, which has seen Comcast acquire Time Warner Cable, AT&T move for DirecTV and most recently 21st Century Fox bid for Time Warner.

In a statement, BBCWW said: “BBC America has just recorded eight straight years of growth and has never been stronger in brand, ratings, advertising or critical acclaim. We do not comment on market rumours and speculation.”

AMC Networks could be reach before press time.


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