AMC Networks wants stake in BBC America: source

Wed Jul 30, 2014 6:54pm EDT

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(Reuters) - AMC Networks Inc (AMCX.O), a U.S. media company that owns cable channels, is in talks to buy a stake in BBC America, BBC Worldwide’s U.S. channel, a source familiar with the matter told Reuters.

BBC Worldwide would retain a small majority of BBC America if a deal with AMC goes through, the source said.

Bloomberg reported that AMC will take a stake of about 50 percent in BBC America. (bloom.bg/1zwBh7g)

BBC Worldwide, the commercial arm of Britain's public broadcaster, is interested in a partnership to use AMC's advertising sales and distribution network, said Bloomberg, citing people with knowledge of the matter.

The investment would mark a further expansion for AMC and come on the heels of its $1.04 billion purchase last year of Chellomedia, an international media company owned by Liberty Global. The valuation of BBC America is not known.

AMC had considered making an investment in BBC America for some time and the two companies had worked together on programing and distribution partnerships in the past, the source said. Media consolidation is on the rise this year with Rupert Murdoch's Twenty-First Century Fox circling takeover target Time Warner (TWX.N). Time Warner rejected Fox's initial $80 billion bid.

AMC, controlled by the Dolan family, views BBC America as having momentum and a strong following with shows such as "Dr. Who" and "Orphan Black".

The two science fiction shows have strong followings and appeal to upscale audiences. BBC America reaches more than 80 million U.S. homes.

The two companies, which have a joint production coming out this week, declined to comment.

(Reporting by Supantha Mukherjee in Bangalore and Liana Baker in New York; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila)

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