American broadcaster Discovery Inc is in the midst of informal discussions about a potential takeover bid for Britain's state-owned Channel 4 television network, The Telegraph reported. The potential bid process is being managed by UK Government Investments, the paper indicated, adding that the deal would be expected to close in the middle of 2022.
The UK government had officially opened a consultation on potential privatization of Channel 4 last month. In fact, the government’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport announced a review into whether privatizing the broadcaster “could help secure its future”.
The advertising-funded Channel 4, whose hit shows include "The Great British Bake Off," was set up with a remit to provide challenging and distinctive programming for audiences under-served by traditional broadcasters. In its 2020 annual report, Channel 4 said its revenues were 934 million pounds, down 5% from 2019, with a pre-tax surplus of 74 million pounds, the highest in its 38-year history. Viewing share for its TV channel portfolio rose 2% to 10.1%, its first year-on-year increase since 2011. It set a target of doubling viewing by 2025.
Rival UK broadcasters ITV and Comcast's Sky are also exploring a bid for Channel 4, The Telegraph disclosed.