Profile: Richard Desmond, businessman

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The Independent Online

Who's this self-satisfied looking chap?

It's Channel 5 proprietor Richard Desmond, who is also the proud owner of the Daily Express, Sunday Express, Daily Star and OK! magazine – collectively known to the rest of the media as "the scourge". Last night was a big night for him, as it heralded the launch of Celebrity Big Brother, which the channel has revamped after inheriting from Channel 4. Mr Desmond has reason to be happy, but the real test will come during the long autumn run of the non-celebrity show. Will ratings hold up? Will the show be even less popular this time around? Either way, you probably won't find an objective analysis in the Star, several of its exclusives about celebrities starring in this series turned out to be wrong.

Hasn't 'Big Brother' run its course?

You'd have thought so, but it remains an attractive commercial coup. If the Shilpa Shetty racism fiasco of 2007 couldn't kill it stone dead, nothing will. When Channel 4 decided not to recommission further series from production company Endemol, it wasn't that the show was losing them money – on the contrary, given the hours of programming it provides it's much more cost effective than your average drama serial – but that there was a feeling it went against their mission of being a public service broadcaster. Desmond has no such pretensions at Channel 5, where surely the aim of the series' producers is to replicate Big Brother 5's infamous "fight night" – except that it will happen every night, interminably, forever.



Does this mean he's abandoning his papers and magazines in favour of TV?

Don't count on it. Big Brother is a Daily Star and OK! staple, and over the past few days even the Express has shown interest. Given that there are now such close ties between Channel 5 and Desmond's print media (does anyone recall the plugging of Vanessa Feltz's chat show?) there is the chance that a front-page "exclusive" could be just that. Alternatively, we could see headlines such as 'SEXY SALLY SLEEPS WITH JEDWARD', only to find the Speaker's wife merely bumped into their bed.

Big Brother begins, page 17

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