BBC Broadcast’s future a voyage of Discovery

BBC Broadcast has this week been appointed to create on- air design for the US Discovery Channel, as speculation about its future ownership continues to mount.

In last week’s announcement of swingeing changes across the BBC, director general Mark Thompson announced the corporation was ‘actively exploring options, including those of partnering, joint venturing or sale’ of the division and would be ‘inviting bids for BBC Broadcast in the new year’.

A spokeswoman for BBC Broadcast says it is still too early to speculate on likely bidders. However, she confirms a management buyout is ‘an option that hasn’t been ruled out’.

One of the issues facing the organisation is its diverse business remit, which ranges from playout and subtitling divisions to its more creative design arm. A solution may be to separate divisions, as few buyers are likely to be interested in such a broad scope.

‘We are such a diverse business there’s no real obvious path [for the future],’ the spokeswoman concedes.

‘There are a few options and these are being explored at the moment,’ she adds.

A further announcement is expected in January.

The Discovery Channel appointment, which sees British-based designers creating a comprehensive on-air design for the US-based channel, will give prospective buyers a fillip.

The project includes channel idents, sponsorship billboards, lower thirds, end credits and a 20-second film to commemorate the channel’s 20th anniversary next year. The work will launch on 20 January along with a raft of new programming.

BBC Broadcast has previously worked with the Sci Fi channel and BBC America.

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