Plans to merge BBC Worldwide and Channel 4 look set to be met with political opposition as talks continue on ways to save the latter from a projected £100 million advertising shortfall.

Talks between the BBC and Channel 4 to turn the profitable BBC Worldwide in to '4 Worldwide' appear to be gathering pace as the pressure to save the third major UK terrestrial broadcaster rises.

BBC Worldwide deals with many of the BBC's most profitable areas, including international rights to programmes like Strictly Come Dancing, Radio Times and Top Gear Magazine and DVD sales.

Minority stake

The current plan would apparently see Channel 4, also publicly owned, taking over the business, with the BBC retaining only a minority stake.

Inevitably many within the BBC are reticent to let go of an area of the business that makes a large profit globally, but there are also signs that politicians will not meekly accept the proposal.

"This is essentially a plan aimed at taking public money surreptiously, because it take profits away from the BBC, and forces the licence fee to go up," John Whittingdale, MP, chairman of the Culture Media and Sport Select Committee told The Times.

"But I know Channel 4 is keen on it, because it thinks that it would be difficult for it to justify taking public money directly."