Desmond comes to the rescue of Five with £104m deal

The media tycoon Richard Desmond last night sealed his takeover of Five, the channel whose hit shows include CSI and Neighbours, in a deal worth £103.5m.

The deal closed with immediate effect, transferring ownership to Northern & Shell (N&S), the publishing group owned by Mr Desmond. "This is a major acquisition and a long-term project," said Mr Desmond, who claimed that he would "invest heavily in talent and content both in the programming we already have and in home-grown programming".

Mr Desmond went on to say that Coronation Street, The X Factor and Panorama were all programmes he would like the channel to broadcast.

Asked if he was asking the BBC to make shows for his network, he said: "Well, why not, why not? Why can't we have Panorama on Channel Five? It's a jolly good programme."

He added: "Channel Five has proved itself to be a credible and competitive British broadcaster with some of the most sought-after programmes from home and overseas.

"I'm delighted to have taken ownership of the network and I know that, with the right investment, drive and leadership, it can go from strength to strength as a competitive broadcaster and a modern player for the digital consumer."

Mr Desmond owns the Daily Express and Sunday Express national newspapers as well as the Daily Star and its Sunday counterpart, and the celebrity lifestyle magazine OK!. Northern & Shell also owns a series of adult television channels, including the subscription channel Television X – The Fantasy Channel. The group has also expanded into "pay-per-night" with its Red Hot channels. European legislation means Mr Desmond will not be able to promote his print titles on Five. He will, however, be able to back the broadcaster in his publications.

The former parent company, the Luxembourg-based RTL Group, had become frustrated with Five's performance as it struggled through the downturn. A source close to the company said it had come to a point where RTL had to "invest or sell – and the opportunity to sell was too good to pass up". The source said RTL was happy with the price it received, which is "higher than the value of the assets".

"With a significant recovery of the UK TV advertising market and Five performing well in the first half of 2010, we saw a window of opportunity to realise a transaction based on a fair evaluation of Five," said Gerhard Zeiler, the RTL chief executive.

Claire Enders, founder of Enders Analysis, said: "Desmond is someone who has a real interest in the media. He is an innovative entrepreneur. The edge he has is the free publicity in the Star, OK! and the Express. He will build the buzz and the glamour in the publications, which is something the channel has been sorely lacking."

Mr Desmond has pledged to keep Five as a public-service broadcaster. This means a prime slot on the electronic programme guide, but the broadcaster must pledge to screen a certain amount of news and current affairs programming.

He revealed he will pay the £20m cost of Five's participation in Project Canvas, the joint venture with partners including the BBC, Channel 4 and BT, to bring online catch-up TV to the living room set. Five had walked away from the venture earlier this year.

Mr Desmond cleared the takeover with the media watchdog Ofcom earlier this week, and is expected to be called in front of the House of Commons culture committee, who will quiz him on his plans for the channel.

Five launched to great fanfare in 1997, backed by Pearson Television, United Business Media, Warburg Pincus and CLT-Ufa. CLT and Pearson later merged to form RTL, which subsequently took 100 per cent ownership. The group initially made its name in soft porn movies, football and action films, an image that the current chairman and chief executive Dawn Airey has worked hard to shed.

Recently it has struggled and in the last financial year, RTL was forced to write off more than half of the value of its UK operations. Five's earnings had fallen 30 per cent to £250m and the management was forced into a brutal cost-cutting programme, slashing 87 jobs from 354 staff, cutting £65m in costs. It had been hit particularly hard by the onset of the downturn which saw advertising plunge 12.5 per cent in 2009.

Ms Enders concluded: "Mr Desmond will be able to build market share at the channel through investment and cross-promotion, but will Five ever be a competitor to ITV? Hell no."

Arts and Entertainment
Cillian Murphy stars as Tommy Shelby in Peaky Blinders

TV
Arts and Entertainment
The cast of The Big Bang Theory in a still from the show

TV
Arts and Entertainment

art
Arts and Entertainment
Rupert Murdoch and Rebekah Brooks in 2011

Review: A panoramic account of the hacking scandal

books
Arts and Entertainment
Adèle Exarchopoulos and Léa Seydoux play teeneage lovers in the French erotic drama 'Blue Is The Warmest Colour' - The survey found four times as many women admitting to same-sex experiences than 20 years ago

TV
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Comedian Jack Dee has allegedly threatened to quit as chairman of long-running Radio 4 panel show 'I’m Sorry I Haven’t A Clue'

Edinburgh Festival
Arts and Entertainment
Director Paul Thomas Anderson (right) and his movie The Master featuring Joaquin Phoenix

film
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film

film
Arts and Entertainment
There are no plans to replace R Kelly at the event

music
Arts and Entertainment
<p><strong>Laura
Carmichael- Lady Edith Crawley</strong></p>
<p>Carmichael currently stars as Sonya in the West End production of
Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya at the Vaudeville Theatre. She made headlines this autumn
when Royal Shakespeare Company founder Sir Peter Hall shouted at her in a
half-sleepy state during her performance. </p>
<p>Carmichael made another appearance on the stage in 2011, playing
two characters in David Hare’s <em>Plent</em>y
at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield. </p>
<p>Away from the stage she starred as receptionist Sal in the 2011
film <em>Tinker Tailor Solider Spy</em>. </p>

TV
Arts and Entertainment

film
Arts and Entertainment
Zoe Saldana admits she's

TV
Arts and Entertainment
'Old Fashioned' will be a different kind of love story to '50 Shades'
film
Arts and Entertainment

film
Arts and Entertainment
The Great British Bake Off contestants line-up behind Sue and Mel in the Bake Off tent

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Mitch Winehouse is releasing a new album

music
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Beast would strip to his underpants and take to the stage with a slogan scrawled on his bare chest whilst fans shouted “you fat bastard” at him

music
Arts and Entertainment
On set of the Secret Cinema's Back to the Future event

film
Arts and Entertainment
Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman

film
Arts and Entertainment
Pedro Pascal gives a weird look at the camera in the blooper reel

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Public vote: Art Everywhere poster in a bus shelter featuring John Hoyland
art
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Griffin holds forth in The Simpsons Family Guy crossover episode

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Judd Apatow’s make-it-up-as-you-go-along approach is ideal for comedies about stoners and slackers slouching towards adulthood
filmWith comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
Arts and Entertainment
booksForget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Arts and Entertainment
Off set: Bab El Hara
tvTV series are being filmed outside the country, but the influence of the regime is still being felt
Arts and Entertainment
Red Bastard: Where self-realisation is delivered through monstrous clowning and audience interaction
comedy
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

    The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

    With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
    Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

    How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

    As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
    We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

    We will remember them

    Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
    Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

    Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

    Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
    Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

    Acting in video games gets a makeover

    David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices
    Could our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?

    Could smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases?

    Health Kit and Google Fit have been described as "the beginning of a health revolution"
    Ryanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?

    Can we learn to love Ryanair again?

    Four recent travellers give their verdicts on the carrier's improved customer service
    Billionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers

    Spanx launches range of jeans

    The jeans come in two styles, multiple cuts and three washes and will go on sale in the UK in October
    10 best over-ear headphones

    Aural pleasure: 10 best over-ear headphones

    Listen to your favourite tracks with this selection, offering everything from lambskin earmuffs to stainless steel
    Commonwealth Games 2014: David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end

    Commonwealth Games

    David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end
    UCI Mountain Bike World Cup 2014: Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings

    UCI Mountain Bike World Cup

    Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings
    Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

    The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

    The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
    A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

    A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

    Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
    Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

    Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

    How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
    Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

    From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

    He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star