TV

Viacom to acquire Britain’s Channel 5

U.S. media giant Viacom will buy British broadcaster Channel 5 for £450 million (or US$757 million), a move that Viacom president and CEO Philippe Dauman says will "dramatically increase" the company's investment in content from UK producers.
May 1, 2014

U.S. media giant Viacom will buy British public service broadcaster Channel 5 for £450 million (or US$757 million), pending regulatory approval.

The company – which owns U.S. cable nets MTV, VH1, Comedy Central and Nickelodeon – will acquire the commercial channel from British businessman Richard Desmond’s Northern & Shell Media Group. Unscripted programming airing on Channel 5 includes Big Brother, Ice Road Truckers and Britain’s Crime Capitals.

Desmond bought the channel from previous owner RTL for £103.5 million (US$172 million) in 2010. He initially sought £700 million in January and reportedly attracted several prospective buyers, including Discovery Communications and UK pay-TV operation BskyB.

In a statement, Viacom president and CEO Philippe Dauman said the acquisition would accelerate the company’s strategy in the UK and introduce its existing programming to British viewers on-air and online.

“This deal will dramatically increase Viacom’s investment in content produced in the UK, which has a widely admired public service broadcasting culture and a globally influential production sector,” he said. “We look forward to partnering with local producers to introduce more UK-created content to global audiences, and will continue to explore opportunities in the UK, both in the free-to-air and pay television markets.”

Launched in 1997 as the UK’s fifth public service broadcaster, Channel 5 garners more than 42 million monthly viewers. Viacom will also acquire Channel 5 brands 5*, 5USA, Milkshake! and Demand 5.

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