Viacom, the owner of MTV, is to buy Channel 5 for £450m.
The deal, confirmed today, ends months of speculation about the channel’s future.
The price means Richard Desmond, whose Northern & Shell business bought Channel 5 from RTL in 2010 for £104m, has more then trebled his investment.
Launched in 1997, the channel has failed to end ITV and the BBC’s hold on audiences with programmes regularly failing to break the 2m viewers mark.
The channel is overwhelmingly reliant on imports, including Dallas and Wentworth, with original programming mostly accounted for by reality TV and lifestyle shows.
Its new owners will need to significantly boost content budgets if they’re to grow the channel’s reach.
Viacom also owns Comedy Central and children’s network Nickelodeon which all have UK variants.
Despite the poor audience figures, Viacom President and CEO Philippe Dauman claimed his new station had “momentum”.
He 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, 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.”
In addition to the main channel and its spin-offs – 5* and Five USA – Viacom is expected to acquire Channel 5’s interest in connected TV platform YouView in which it’s an equal partner alongside the BBC, ITV, Channel 4, BT, TalkTalk and Arqiva.