Media Lifeline: BBC Magazines

The publisher continues to offload titles by selling Origin to a management buyout team.

1994: Previously, the BBC had published programme spin-off magazines, such as Top Gear and Gardeners' World, in partnership with Redwood, a contract publisher in which the broadcaster had built a substantial stake. Now it takes full control and houses its masthead titles (16 of them at this point) in a newly created division of the corporation's commercial arm, BBC Worldwide.

2001: With the dawning of the new century, BBC Magazines goes into overdrive. It launches big-budget programme spin-offs and devises brand extensions for existing titles; it also moves into contract publishing and announces that it is looking for acquisitions and joint ventures. Last, but by no means least, in its most ambitious move to date, it launches a mainstream women's glossy monthly magazine called Eve.

2004: The division acquires the Bristol-based magazine company, Origin Publishing. But with the BBC's Charter renewal due in 2006, the new director-general, Mark Thompson (pictured), orders a review - and a scaling back of non-programme-related publishing activities.

2005: BBC Magazines sells Eve to Haymarket Publishing. The two companies already have a close relationship, working together in the exhibitions market on events such as the BBC Good Food Show. At this stage, BBC Worldwide confirms that it will continue to look at offloading other non-core programme titles.

2006: BBC Magazines sells Origin to a management buyout team. Peter Phippen (pictured), the BBC Magazines managing director, says the BBC will retain control of Origin's BBC-branded titles and will house them in a subsidiary called Bristol Magazines.


2008: Having secured guaranteed funding for the next two decades from the new Government, the BBC no longer needs to behave itself and surges back into the magazine market with a vengeance. Seeing a need to maximise its portfolio of cross-platform properties, it now makes an audacious bid for Emap - funded ultimately by the tax payer.