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

eurovision
Arts and Entertainment
Fearne Cotton is leaving Radio 1 after a decade

radio
Arts and Entertainment
The light stuff: Britt Robertson and George Clooney in ‘Tomorrowland: a World Beyond’
film review
Arts and Entertainment
Reawakening: can Jon Hamm’s Don Draper find enlightenment in the final ‘Mad Men’?
tv reviewNot quite, but it's an enlightening finale for Don Draper spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Breakfast Show’s Nick Grimshaw

Radio
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
I am flute: Azeem Ward and his now-famous instrument
music
Arts and Entertainment
A glass act: Dr Chris van Tulleken (left) and twin Xand get set for their drinking challenge
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
MIA perform at Lovebox 2014 in London Fields, Hackney

music
Arts and Entertainment
Finnish punk band PKN hope to enter Eurovision 2015 and raise awareness for Down's Syndrome

eurovision
Arts and Entertainment
William Shakespeare on the cover of John Gerard's The Herball or Generall Historie of Plantes

books
Arts and Entertainment

Game of Thrones review
Arts and Entertainment
Grayson Perry dedicates his Essex home to Julie

Potter's attempt to create an Essex Taj Mahal was a lovely treat

tv
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from the original Swedish version of the sci-fi TV drama ‘Real Humans’
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Hugh Keays-Byrne plays Immortan Joe, the terrifying gang leader, in the new film
filmActor who played Toecutter returns - but as a different villain in reboot
Arts and Entertainment
Charlize Theron as Imperator Furiosa in Mad Max: Fury Road
film
Arts and Entertainment
Jessica Hynes in W1A
tvReview: Perhaps the creators of W1A should lay off the copy and paste function spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Power play: Mitsuko Uchida in concert

classical
Arts and Entertainment
Dangerous liaisons: Dominic West, Jake Richard Siciliano, Maura Tierney and Leya Catlett in ‘The Affair’ – a contradictory drama but one which is sure to reel the viewers in
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Herring, pictured performing at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival two years ago
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
Music freak: Max Runham in the funfair band
theatre
Arts and Entertainment
film 'I felt under-used by Hollywood'
Latest stories from i100
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.

    Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

    Sun, sex and an anthropological study

    One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
    From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

    Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

    'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
    'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

    Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

    This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

    Songs from the bell jar

    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
    How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

    One man's day in high heels

    ...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
    The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

    King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

    The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

    End of the Aussie brain drain

    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
    Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

    Can meditation be bad for you?

    Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
    Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

    Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

    Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
    Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

    Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

    Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
    Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

    Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

    Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
    Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

    Join the tequila gold rush

    The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
    12 best statement wallpapers

    12 best statement wallpapers

    Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
    Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

    Paul Scholes column

    Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?