Virgin 'considers selling TV channels'

Virgin Media is considering selling some or all of its television channels, according to reports.

Consultants firm Goldman Sachs has apparently been called in to oversee a review of Virgin Media Television, the cable operator's content arm.

Channels that could go include Living TV, Bravo and Sit Up but the most likely subject of a deal is said to be Virgin's half of UKTV.

However, this would be complicated by the change-of-control rights of BBC Worldwide, which owns the other half. It could block any sale or ask for money to approve it.

When NTL merged with Telewest, previous holder of the UKTV share, it was such an obstacle that the deal was significantly restructured. The merger was structured as a reverse takeover, with Telewest taking over NTL rather than vice versa, as had been the plan.

Some reports say the BBC could bid for Virgin's half, avoiding the problem, but others believe it would be limited by its £350m borrowing cap.

Other likely bidders for any of the assets would include Five parent RTL, Sky and NBC Universal, according to the Sunday Times. The whole Virgin Media TV group is said to be worth around £800m.

The reports say Virgin wants to keep and add to its shopping channels.

Any invite for bids would follow others in recent years that did not eventually lead to a sale.

Virgin said it did not comment on speculation.