UKTV co-owner would look at buying Channel 4
Scripps, which jointly owns pay-TV network with BBC Worldwide, also looked at acquiring Channel 5 when it was up for sale

US pay-TV company Scripps Networks International has said that it would look at buying Channel 4 if the broadcaster was put up for sale, while Disney has ruled itself out of any process.

Scripps, which jointly owns UKTV with BBC Worldwide, said its business strategy means that it would always consider a prime asset in a market in which it is a major player.

“As important assets like Channel 4 become available we do look,” said Jim Samples, president of International at Scripps Network Interactive, speaking at an Enders Analysis conference on Tuesday. “Generally we look at any opportunity. Is there an opportunity to build a multilayer offering for consumers: production of content, broadcast, channels? Any look would be about that.”

Scripps is keen to increase its media asset portfolio in the UK and Europe.

In 2014, the company made a £500m offer
to buy the other half of UKTV from BBC Worldwide. The company, which owns TV brands including Food Network, which airs shows such as Nigella Express, bought out Virgin Media’s 50% stake in UKTV in 2011 for £339m.

The company also looked at buying Channel 5 when Richard Desmond put it up for sale; it was eventually bought by US rival and MTV owner Viacom for £450m.

Scripps has strong ties with Channel 4, which handles UKTV’s TV advertising sales.

Samples said that any potential move to buy Channel 4 would be seen through the prism of its UKTV operation.

“It would have to be looked at in context of the already large investment in UKTV,” he said. “UKTV has been extraordinarily successful.”

A senior European Disney executive said that the company was not interested in Channel 4, if it was put up for sale, or partial sale.

“We’re not in the business of acquiring platforms and networks,” said Mark Endemano, general manager Disney Media Distribution for Europe, Middle East and Africa. “We love Channel 4 as a partner. We’d love to see it continue in good health.”