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Sky boss talks of interest in UKTV acquisition

LONDON - BSkyB's chief executive Jeremy Darroch has expressed interest in buying Dave channel owner UKTV, which is 50% owned by pay-TV rival Virgin Media.

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Speaking at a conference in Florida Darroch said content companies generally were in Sky's sights and went on to mention the 50:50 BBC Worldwide and Virgin Media joint venture by name.

Darroch said: "We will look at acquisitions if we think they can advance our strategy, areas like content have been a prime area of focus for us. There's been some speculation, just by way as an example, around UKTV.

"I don't know if that will come back on the market ... but I think that would be something we would look at."

Sky's declaration of interest comes amid speculation that a government-steered solution to the question of Channel 4's future funding may involve a transfer of ownership of UKTV, which owns 11 digital TV channels including Blighty and UKTV Food.

Some believe that UKTV could become an element of a tie-up between Channel 4 and parts of BBC Worldwide.

Darroch also said that Sky will persevere with its appeal against the Competition Commission's order to reduce its 17.9% stake in ITV.

He was pessimistic about the outlook for the economy in 2009.

"2009, on any level is clearly going to be difficult and so our thesis as a business, actually for some time, has been that the environment is going to remain challenging and ... will get worse before it gets better."

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