Sky in indie studios swoop as it awaits Fox bid update

Sky is ramping up its TV production portfolio by taking stakes in British indie firms Chrysalis Vision and True North for an undisclosed sum.

Sky is buying a stake in True North, maker of shows including Building The Dream. Picture: Faye Oakwell/True North
Sky is buying a stake in True North, maker of shows including Building The Dream. Picture: Faye Oakwell/True North

The broadcaster’s majority stake in True North marks the end of Channel 4’s involvement with the Leeds-based production house, which was previously backed by Channel 4 Indie Growth Fund.

True North – known for a number of hit series including Teen Mom UK, Homes By The Sea, A New Life In The Sun and Building The Dream – will stay based in the north of England, growing its base in both Leeds and Manchester following the investment.

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Sky’s minority stake in Chrysalis Vision will see it gain a foothold in a TV drama production house co-founded by serial entrepreneur and former Pizza Express chairman Luke Johnson, and media executives Chris Wright and Mick Pilsworth.

Sky Vision will become the commercial and distribution partner for content for both companies, though existing agreements with other broadcasters and distributors will be upheld.

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Jane Millichip, managing direction at Sky Vision, said: “We’re excited to be investing in True North... We’re also delighted to be working with Mick and Chris, who have a great track record in building successful, creative businesses, and the whole team at Chrysalis Vision which will bolster our drama ambitions.”

The announcement comes just days ahead of Sky’s half-year results, set to be released on Thursday. Investors will be eyeing the report for any update regarding the £11.7 billion takeover bid by Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox, which was formally tabled in December.

Fox’s offer of £10.75 per share for the 61 per cent of Sky it does not already own values the Game Of Thrones broadcaster at £18.5bn. The deal, which shareholders still have to vote on, comes five years after the media tycoon’s last tilt at taking full control of the business through News Corporation.

That deal was derailed after the company – which owns the Sun and the Times – was forced to abandon the bid when it became embroiled in the phone-hacking scandal involving News International.

But the media mogul’s renewed attempt to take full control of the broadcaster has sparked controversy and the Labour Party has urged the government to block the move, with deputy leader Tom Watson raising fears that the deal could result in too much media power being concentrated in too few hands.