Confirmed: Viacom to buy Channel 5 for £450million

2 comments - Posted on May 1 2014 at 01:11pm

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American media giant Viacom has confirmed today that it has agreed a £450million deal to purchase Big Brother broadcaster Channel 5 from Richard Desmond’s Northern & Shell.

As part of the agreement, the company’s international division Viacom International Media Networks (VIMN) will acquire all of C5’s assets and brands, including digital channels 5* and 5USA.

The move will result in the C5 network becoming part of VIMN’s extensive stable of UK channels, which includes MTV, Nickeloden and Comedy Central as well as the free-to-air service Viva.

But it also means that Big Brother will lose its close ties with Desmond, who is known to be one of the show’s biggest champions.

Phillipe Dauman, Viacom’s president and CEO, said: “The acquisition of Channel 5 accelerates Viacom’s strategy in the UK, one of the world’s most important and valuable media markets.

“C5’s momentum is indisputable, with impactful programming, increasing popularity and a growing digital platform. Viacom’s global resources and expertise will help C5 develop even more compelling programming and provide content to consumers in exciting new ways.

“In addition, we will introduce our popular content to new UK audiences and create a comprehensive offering for our commercial partners on-air and on-line.”

The transaction – to be funded from Viacom’s existing cash balances – is subject to customary regulatory approvals before it can be completed. Reports that BSkyB would take over C5’s advertising sales are yet to be confirmed.

Since Desmond purchased C5 for £103.5million in 2010, it has steadily grown its viewership, and made a profit for the first time in its history. Much of this success has been aided by Big Brother, which was the first major programme commissioned under the 62-year-old tycoon’s watch.

His decision to sell will come as a major blow to Big Brother, as he is thought to fund it from a cash pot separate to C5’s main budget. The show will also lose backing from his publishing stable – including titles such as the Daily Star and OK! Magazine – which have been responsible for the majority of its media coverage in recent years.

However, Viacom also has involvement with the fifteen-year-old reality format, owning a 50% stake in Colors TV, the channel that airs the Indian version, Bigg Boss.

They could potentially use BBUK as a platform to cross-promote talent and shows from its other channels. Charlotte Crosby, star of MTV’s scripted reality series Geordie Shore, ended up winning the Celebrity version when she took part last year.

C5’s current deal with Endemol for the Big Brother rights is due later this year, following the fifteenth civilian and fourteeth Celebrity series, which will air from next month.

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2 comments on this article

  1. diane says:
    Thu 01 May Reply !

    Please don’t stop home and,away or neighbours, love these soaps.

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