Viacom buys Channel 5 for £450 million

US media giant Viacom has bought UK free-to-air broadcaster Channel 5 for £450 million (US$757 million).

311008_0404_dauman_big“The acquisition of Channel 5 accelerates Viacom’s strategy in the UK, one of the world’s most important and valuable media markets,” said Viacom president and CEO Philippe Dauman (pictured). “Channel 5’s momentum is indisputable, with impactful programming, increasing pularity and a growing digital platform. Channel 5’s management and employees have done an outstanding job building their brand and we are pleased to welcome them to our team.”

The future of the Channel 5 has been subject to much speculation with Discovery and other media heavyweights linked to bids for the broadcaster, which is owned by Richard Desmond’s Northern & Shell. The company restructured the UK broadcaster and transformed its fortunes.

The auction process for the channel, which was formerly owned by RTL, started in January and lawyers working on the deal said today the Viacom deal was signed last night.

The deal, which is subject to regulatory approval, covers the full bouquet of Channel 5 services including the core channel as well as 5* (fka Five Life), and 5USA. It also includes the Demand 5 on-demand catch-up service.

Dauman added: “Viacom’s global resources, technology and expertise will help Channel 5 develop even more compelling programming and provide content to consumers in exciting new ways. In addition, we will introduce our popular content to new UK audiences and create a comprehensive offering for our commercial partners on-air and on-line.”

Paul Dunthorne, Channel 5 COO, said: “Since Northern & Shell’s acquisition of Channel 5 in 2010, the financial and operating performance of the business has been transformed with improved audiences and content offering. The combination of Channel 5 with Viacom’s global resources, technology and expertise adds further to the momentum of the business and offers numerous exciting opportunities for the channel’s future.”

US-listed Viacom reported second-quarter results this morning.

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