Viacom closes Channel 5 acquisition

Viacom International Media Networks (VIMN) has closed its £450 million (US$740 million) acquisition of UK broadcaster Channel 5 from Northern & Shell Media Group.

The deal was first announced on May 1 and was completed yesterday morning after receiving unconditional clearance from the European Commission.

With the conclusion of the agreement, VIMN – which owns channel brands including MTV, Nickelodeon, Comedy Central and Paramount Channel – announced its first coproductions between Channel 5 and other Viacom-owned UK pay TV networks.

Animated children’s show Nella the Knight will be the first of these. It will be co-funded by Nickelodeon and Channel 5’s preschool strand Milkshake, which will share broadcast rights, and be produced in the UK.

Channel 5 and Viacom’s MTV UK are also jointly commissioning a new entertainment series, called 10,000 BC (10x60mins), in which 20 volunteers will forgo the comforts and conveniences of modern life to “go back to the Stone Age.”

The show is due to premiere on Channel 5 in 2015 with a shorter spin-off show (5x60mins) to air on MTV UK. The Garden and GroupM Entertainment will produce.

“Our ownership of Channel 5 will significantly increase Viacom’s investment in British creativity and content,” said Viacom president and CEO, Philippe Dauman.

“We are committed to strengthening Channel 5’s status as one of UK broadcasting’s premier brands, and we will continue to grow the network’s pipeline of original programming with more quality commissions, as well as acquisitions.

“The addition of Channel 5 will also benefit our existing UK pay television channel portfolio, as demonstrated by the announcement of our first two original programming commissions.

At the same time, Viacom announced that Channel 5’s advertising sales team will be retained and will continue to sell the network’s airtime.

Channel 5’s commercial director of sales, Nick Bampton, and its chief operating officer, Paul Dunthorne, will each report to David Lynn, executive VP and managing director of VIMN UK.

Both join Lynn’s UK senior management team, along with Channel 5’s programme director, Ben Frow.

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