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Discovery Acquires BBC's 50% Global Stakes In Animal Planet, Liv For $156 Million

Globally, the BBC and Discovery Communications are ending a joint venture arrangement for a pair of networks. In North America, the parties are staying together from a programming perspective for a couple of more years.

BBC Worldwide is selling to Discovery its 50% interest in the global TV channels joint venture Animal Planet and Liv, formerly dubbed People+Arts for $156 million.

The BBC had sold its 20% in Animal Planet in the U.S. in 2006, but had retained its stake in the service operating in Europe, Asia and Latin America.

Animal Planet is a global channel brand reaching nearly 250 million cumulative subscribers in more than 170 markets across Europe, Asia and Latin America. Liv is a general entertainment channel brand reaching 24 million cumulative subscribers in 33 Latin American markets.

The sale comes nearly a year after a BBC Trust review said the corporation's commercial arm should sell its non-BBC branded international channels such as Animal Planet

With the exit from this joint venture, BBC Worldwide will concentrate on the growth of wholly owned services within its portfolio, notably BBC America, BBC Entertainment, BBC Knowledge, BBC Lifestyle, BBC HD and CBeebies. Collectively, those services reach some 107 million subscribers in over 100 countries.

Under a new pact, BBC and Discovery are extending their long-standing relationship for co-productions and program acquisitions by two years through 2014. This partnership has yielded some of the most spectacular nature programming with such projects as Life, Planet Earth, Blue Planet and Wonders of the Solar System.

The extension comes on top of the final two years of a 10-year pact, valued at some $400 million, which was signed in 2002 by BBC, BBC Worldwide Ltd and Discovery Communications International. The original alliance, signed and announced in March 1998, was formed in order for DCI and the BBC to launch channels and create factual programming for the global market.

Read more at Multichannel News here.