Published On: Thu, May 1st, 2014

Sumner Redstone’s Viacom Shells Out $750 Million To Buy UK Channel 5 From Richard Desmond

(L-R) Sumner Redstone Richard Desmond / Getty

International media company Viacom, which is based in NewYork and controlled by billionaire Sumner Redstone, today made a joint announcement with Richard Desmond’s UK based Northern & Shell Media Group.

The two companies announced they had reached a definitive agreement for the acquisition by Viacom International Media Networks (VIMN) of the UK’s Channel 5 Broadcasting Limited for about US$750 million (GB£450 million).

Richard Desmond acquired Channel 5 for just US$175 million (almost GB£104 million) in 2010, so he is certainly making a very nice profit by selling it at this time.

This transaction brings Viacom one of British television’s biggest brands, and moreover the only commercial public service broadcaster to have consistently grown its viewership share in recent years.

Paul Dunthorne, Chief Operating Officer of Channel 5, 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.”

Viacom’s  President and CEO Philippe Dauman said, “The acquisition of Channel 5 accelerates Viacom’s strategy in the UK, one of the world’s most important and valuable media markets, ” adding “Channel 5’s momentum is indisputable, with impactful programming, increasing popularity 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.”

“This deal will dramatically increase Viacom’s investment in content produced in the UK, which has a widely admired public service broadcasting culture and a globally influential production sector. We look forward to partnering with local producers to introduce more UK-created content to global audiences, and will continue to explore opportunities in the UK, both in the free-to-air and pay television markets.”

Under the terms of the agreement, Viacom will acquire all brands and assets of Channel 5 Limited, including:

• Channel 5 which launched as the UK’s fifth public service broadcaster in March 1997.
• 5* launched originally as Five Life in 2006, it became 5* in 2011 and is a channel aimed at younger viewers with a targeted mix of films, and acquired and original programming.
• 5USA launched in October 2006 and is the 11th highest rating multichannel in the UK during prime time showcasing American programming.
• Milkshake! is a brand leaders for pre-school children’s programming in the UK, featuring many of the world’s favorite pre-school characters.
• Demand 5 is Channel 5’s video-on-demand service, which delivered over 23 million views in January 2014.

About Richard Desmond

Richard Desmond is a British media tycoon, worth today an estimated US$2.5 billion as at May 2014, according to Forbes magazine’s billionaire’s list.

He was born in 1951 in North London and left school at the age of 15, after his father gambled away his fortune, to become the family bread-winner. In his early years he worked in the advertising industry, opened a record store and played drums at night for a number of local bands.

His interest in music led to the start of his first consumer magazine International Musician. But it was obtaining the British rights to Penthouse in 1983 that first made him rich, He then followed up with the launch of a number of additional x-rated magazines and, later, added a number of both adult and regular TV channels, as well as the weekly celebrity magazine OK!

In 2000 he acquired the Daily Express and Daily Star, including their Sunday editions, which catapulted him to the rank of respectable English newspaper baron in a long tradition of such gentlemen.

As his wealth and scope of business activities grew, he eventually sold off the adult magazines, leaving his holding company, which has the rather strange name Northern & Shell, today a hugely profitable media octopus.

As with many rich people, particularly those who are completely self-made, Richard Desmond pays a lot of attention to philanthropic efforts and has endowed a number of charities with both large amounts of money and, perhaps equally important, substantial amounts of his own time.

About Viacom

Viacom is home to premier global media brands that create compelling television programs, motion pictures, short-form video, apps, games, consumer products, social media and other entertainment content for audiences in more than 160 countries and territories.

Viacom’s media networks, including MTV, VH1, CMT, Logo, BET, CENTRIC, Nickelodeon, Nick Jr., TeenNick, Nicktoons, Nick at Nite, Comedy Central, TV Land, SPIKE, Tr3s, Paramount Channel and VIVA, reach approximately 700 million households worldwide. Paramount Pictures, America’s oldest film studio, is a major global producer and distributor of filmed entertainment.

About Sumner Redstone

Sumner Redstone used National Amusements, a family-owned chain of movie theaters, to launch a media empire. Through several, frequently hostile, acquisitions, the Redstone family gained control of CBS, Viacom, MTV Networks, and BET, as well as movie production and distributors Paramount Pictures and DreamWorks, and are equal partners in MovieTickets.com. According to Forbes as of May 2014 Sumner Redstone is worth US $6.1 billion.

Sumner’s father, Michael Rothstein (which translates into English as ”Red stone”) included among his business interests the Northeast Theater Corporation in Dedham, Massachusetts, the forerunner of National Amusements – and also the Boston branch of the Latin Quarter Nightclub.

Summer received his LL.B., and Doctor of Law, from Harvard Law School. As a great believer in content he invested in Columbia Pictures, Twentieth Century Fox, Orion Pictures, and Paramount Pictures. These all turned over a huge profit when he chose to sell their stock in the early 1980s.

In 1979, he suffered severe burns in a fire at the Copley Plaza hotel, in Boston, but survived after thirty hours extensive surgery at Massachusetts General Hospital. Though he was warned that he might never be able to live a normal life, eight years later he was fit enough to insist on playing tennis nearly every day and to launch a winning hostile takeover of Viacom.

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