BSkyB ramps ups programming drive with Great British Bake-off deal

LONDON, July 21 Mon Jul 21, 2014 6:59am EDT

LONDON, July 21 (Reuters) - British pay-TV group BSkyB has taken a majority stake in the production company behind the hugely popular Great British Bake-off, as part of a wider drive to make and distribute more programmes around the world.

BSkyB, which is currently in talks to buy 21st Century Fox's TV assets in Germany and Italy, said it had taken a 70 percent stake in the independent producer Love Productions.

Under the deal, Love Productions will continue to operate as an independent company, making programmes for all the major British broadcasters and selling programmes and formats around the world. The price of the deal was not disclosed.

Sky's international distribution business, Sky Vision, will help sell and promote Love's shows on the international market.

"This is a significant step for our growing international content business," Sophie Turner Laing, managing director of content at Sky, said.

The media industry has witnessed a string of deals in the last year, largely motivated by a desire by media groups to own their own content, helping to differentiate themselves from rivals.

The Great British Bake-off, which pits amateur bakers against each other, has proved hugely popular for the BBC.

BSkyB is currently in talks about acquiring Fox's Sky Italia and its 57 percent stake in Sky Deutschland. Sources familiar with the deal have said the talks are progressing well and BSkyB could give some more details on the deal when it reports full-year results on Friday.

(Reporting by Kate Holton. Editing by Jane Merriman)

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