UK satellite giant BSkyB isreportedly in talks to buy six UGC multiplex theatres from US private equityfirm The Blackstone Group.

Sky chief operating officerRichard Freudenstein is said to be spearheading the talks, with a bid rumouredto be around £30m, according to Broadcast magazine.

Sky reportedly plans to usethe cinemas as part of its bid to reach its target of 10 million subscribers by2010. This could include foyerdemonstrations of Sky services, HDTV presentations, or advance screenings ofSky programmes.

Blackstone bought the42-strong chain of UGC cinemas in December last year for around £200m, afteracquiring the Cine-UK (Cineworld) chain of 35 cinemas earlier in October. As part of the UGC acquisition, Blackstoneagreed to sell off multiplexes in six areas, addressing competition concerns bythe Office of Fair Trading.

Thecinemas are in Birmingham Great Park, Ealing/Slough, Swindon, Harlow, Wigan andBoldon in Tyne and Wear.

Ifsuccessful, the move would give Sky 51 screens across the six sites, able toseat 12,138 people.

Sky refused to confirm ordeny the story. A spokesperson said:"Sky is routinely linked with a wide range of possible acquisition targets."