Does BBC Magazines Sale Mean Uncertainty for DWM?

Exponent Private Equity and BBC Worldwide have this week agreed a deal which will see BBC Magazines sold.

The deal is part of a larger transaction involving the sale of BBC Magazines and the 50% stake BBC Worldwide has in Worldwide Media – a publishing venture which will now be fully owned by its former partner Bennett, Coleman & Co. Ltd, owner of The Times of India – totalling in around £121 Million going back to the BBC.

What’s interesting is that Exponent will not only acquire a sales and licensing agreement for the publication of titles currently published by BBC Magazines like Doctor Who Adventures but also the right to print BBC affiliated titles under its licensing and contract arrangements.

This currently includes the rights awarded to Panini to publish Doctor Who Magazine, and some fans have been left wondering just what this means to the most august sci-fi monthly. Where does Doctor Who Magazine fall under BBC Worldwide’s definitions?

The deal states that BBC Worldwide will not retain ownership of BBC programme-based titles like Gardeners World but will keep a strong continuing editorial interest under licensing agreements.

However BBC Worldwide will still retain ownership of titles relating to key BBC brands such as Top Gear Magazine and will license those titles out to Exponent under contract publishing arrangements. As we know BBC Worldwide will now focus on International Video and Digital Media, with Doctor Who being one of those ‘key BBC Brands’ used to motivate interest in its ventures.

Both Doctor Who titles have enjoyed an increase in circulation with ABC figures for Doctor Who Adventures in particular showing an impressive increase of 26.8% year on year, at 56,648 for the July-December period of 2010.

So will DWM and DWA both be ring fenced by the deal? Or will Exponent have control of DWM’s license and own DWA outright?

As yet we don’t know, but a further breakdown of the deal with be issued once the deal has received clearance from the Office of Fair Trading.

In our opinion, BBC Worldwide is treating Doctor Who as a key brand, just as it does Top Gear; Doctor Who Magazine and Doctor Who Adventures will continue without any changes.



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