April 16, 2014 / 11:08 PM / in 6 years

Discovery exits Britain's Channel 5 bidding - sources

Express newspapers owner Richard Desmond smiles as he leaves after giving evidence to the Leveson Inquiry at the High Court in London January 12, 2012. REUTERS/Olivia Harris

NEW YORK/LONDON (Reuters) - Discovery Communications has dropped out of bidding to buy Britain’s free-to-air Channel 5, according to two sources familiar with the matter.

Discovery, which has been aggressively expanding outside of the United States in television, had been in talks with British Sky Broadcasting Group Plc over a possible joint bid, according to media reports.

It was unclear on Wednesday whether BSkyB was still involved in the process. Representatives from BSkyB and Channel 5 could not immediately be reached for a comment outside of regular working hours.

Channel 5, which broadcasts “Big Brother,” was bought by Richard Desmond’s Northern & Shell media group in 2010 for 103.5 million pounds and made a profit of 20.6 million pounds in the first half of 2013, up from a loss of 16.1 million a year earlier.

Media reports in January said Desmond had hired Barclays to look for buyers for the television network and was expecting to raise about 700 million pounds.

Reporting by Liana B. Baker in New York and Karen Rebelo in London; Editing by Cynthia Osterman

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