Richard Desmond set to sell Channel 5 to Viacom
Source: (TD)
Richard Desmond is set to sell Channel 5 to Viacom for up to £450m as the US broadcaster gears up for an assault on the UK’s free-to-air television market.
Viacom, which owns the MTV, Nickelodeon and Comedy Central channels, could announce a deal on Thursday alongside financial results.
The company, controlled by Sumner Redstone, has already invested heavily in the UK, creating original reality and children’s shows such as the succesful MTV programme Geordie Shore. Along with Channel 5, Viacom also airs the Peppa Pig cartoon series.
Any deal is also likely to have a knock-on effect on Rupert Murdoch’s BSkyB, which handles television advertising sales for Viacom in the UK.
Mr Desmond, who owns the Daily Express newspaper and Health Lottery, had been looking to sell Channel 5 for £700m but bids are believed to have been well below that.

A series of potential British buyers, including BT, Channel 4 and ITV have ruled themselves out of any deal.
However, a sum of £450m would still see Mr Desmond bank a significant profit after he bought the channel for £103.5m from German broadcaster RTL in 2010.
Since then Mr Desmond has cut costs and reinvigorated Channel 5’s advertising sales operation.
It reported an operating profit of £26m for the first half of 2013, compared with a £16.1m loss a year earlier.
The broadcaster is expected to report an operating profit of £70m this year but British television executives have raised concerns about the extent to which the turnaround has relied on Big Brother.
The reality television franchise helped the broadcaster beat Channel 4 for share of viewers, a key statistic for advertising buyers, for the first time in its history last summer.
However, Mr Desmond’s deal for the rights to the Big Brother format expires at the end of this year and it is rumoured that ITV could swoop to fill a gap in the schedules of ITV2.
Northern & Shell, Channel 5’s parent company, declined to comment.