C4 pays £40m for TV 'Housewives'

Channel 4 has paid a record £40m to retain the rights to the hit show, Desperate Housewives. The broadcaster has series three and four, starring Teri Hatcher and Eva Longoria, for the next two seasons.

The cost would make it the most expensive acquisition made by a UK broadcaster. Channel 4 agreed to pay £975,000 per episode after a bidding war with rival broadcasters, says Broadcast magazine.

Sky One was said to be paying up to £800,000 per episode for the US drama Lost, which was shown on Channel 4.

And Channel 4 may also have to shell out £70m for future Big Brother series; now it is paying about £40m a year. The existing agreement runs out at the end of 2007 - after Big Brother 8 - and the programme-maker, Endemol, could be planning a major price increase, according to the Mediaguardian website.

The £70m sum would cover the rights to all Big Brother-related shows including the main series, Celebrity Big Brother and E4 spin-off Big Brother's Little Brother. An Endemol spokesman declined to comment on the figures.

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