The BBC is reported to be reviewing options for the magazine division of BBC Worldwide, the commercial arm of the BBC. These might include selling off the Radio Times and entering into a partnership with a rival publisher for the rest of its magazine business.
BBC Magazines publishes over 50 consumer titles including Top Gear, Radio Times, BBC Good Food and Gardeners’ World. It is the UK’s fourth largest consumer magazine publisher and sold around 85 million copies in the past year. In 2008-09 it made an operating profit of £11.5m, down 31 per cent on the previous year, although sales rose 2.4 per cent to £182.2: Subscriptions are up 16% year on year, at 762,750 (ABC Jan-Jun 09): sales were up 2.4 per cent to £182.2m
BBC Magazines also has growing audiences round the world, with 43 licensed editions of its titles in over 55 territories. In addition, BBC Magazines has joint venture publishing partnerships in India (with the Times of India), and in Australia (with ACP).
A BBC Worldwide spokesman said: “We confirmed to BBC Worldwide staff on Friday that following a review of our magazines business we are seeking a partnership with another company to enable our portfolio of profitable market-leading titles to meet its potential, while still protecting the BBC’s editorial standards and brands.
BBC Worldwide has appointed KPMG to help it find a partner for the magazine business.