Belfast Telegraph

Monday 22 September 2014

Bake-Off producer bought by Sky

BSkyB has bought the production company behind The Great British Bake-Off and Benefits Street

The independent producer behind the BBC's hit show The Great British Bake-Off has been snapped up by BSkyB.

The satellite giant has bought a 70% stake in Love Productions, which also made controversial welfare documentary Benefits Street and is thought to have a turnover of around £14 million, netting a windfall for the two founders who set it up in 2004.

Sky said Anna Beattie and Love's chief executive Richard McKerrow, a former commissioning editor for Channel 4, will remain with the group as it is run as a distinct company under distribution platform Sky Vision, which will carry on offering the shows to other broadcasters in the UK and abroad.

Sky Vision was created in 2012 and is a key part of plans to broaden its international content business across broadcasting, production and distribution amid mounting competition from the likes of BT and internet streaming services such as Netflix.

Sophie Turner Laing, managing director of content for Sky, said: "This is a significant step for our growing international content business. Love is one of the UK's most innovative and creative independent producers with a track record of success across a range of genres, both in the UK and globally."

Benefits Street attracted the attention of TV regulator Ofcom's investigators after it was shown by Channel 4 earlier this year, racking up more than 1,700 complaints for its portrayal of claimants in Birmingham's Winson Green area.

Love recently came under fire for a similar show called Immigration Street, to be set in Southampton's Derby Road and aired by Channel 4 next year.

The group is also behind the Great British Sewing Bee reality TV show, and documentaries including Baby Borrowers, Famous Rich and Homeless, Make Bradford British and My Last Summer.

As well as in London where it is based, Love has production sites in Bristol, New York and Los Angeles.

Sky's drive to expand its pay-TV empire recently saw it make a move for Sky Deutschland and Sky Italia. Those mergers would create a £22 billion European giant with more than 17 million subscribers if approved.

Further details on the deal are expected to be fleshed out when the broadcaster reports annual results on Friday.

Expensive Premier League football rights and investment costs are expected to have helped pull annual operating profits down 7.6% to £1.2 billion.

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