(Reuters) - John Malone-backed Discovery Communications Inc is in talks with British Sky Broadcasting Group Plc over a joint bid for Britain's free-to-air Channel 5, the Financial Times reported on Friday.
The Discovery-BSkyB talks have focused on the British pay-TV provider taking over Channel 5's advertising sales operation, the report cited people familiar with the matter as saying.
Channel 5, which broadcasts Big Brother, was bought by British media baron Richard Desmond in 2010 for 103.5 million pounds ($172.71 million).
Media reports last month said Desmond had hired Barclays to look for buyers for the television network and was expecting to raise about 700 million pounds through the sale.
The Financial Times report said it was unclear if bidders would meet the valuation for the broadcaster. Bids for Channel 5 are due next Thursday.
The sale has also drawn interest from investment firm Saban Capital, which is exploring a possible merger of Channel 5 with Britain's Channel 4, the FT report said, quoting the sources. (r.reuters.com/nex96v)
Representatives at Discovery, BSkyB and Saban Capital could not be immediately reached for comment outside regular business hours.
($1 = 0.5993 British pounds)
(Reporting by Aman Shah in Bangalore; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)