The UK’s newest terrestrial broadcaster has a new owner: Channel 5 (or is it just “Five”?) has been sold to Richard “Dirty” Desmond, owner of a variety of adult oriented publications as well as the increasingly trashy Express and Daily Star titles, and for a sum far greater than any rival bidder was prepared to pay.
So what is the future for Five? There will still have to be proper news coverage – none of the vapid minority bashing of the Desmond tabloids will get past Ofcom. It’s rumoured that Desmond may negotiate down some of the previously agreed cost of imports from the USA, which will help the channel’s cost base.
But high on the agenda, I believe, will be more reality shows (it’s cheap) along with tie-ups with the Desmond papers, particularly the Daily Star (and perhaps OK! Magazine, too). Channel 4 is dispensing with the Big Brother franchise in the UK, and this would be a starting point: the real exclusives would appear first only in the Desmond press.
And other formats would inevitably follow. What is usually called “exploiting synergy” will be done remorselessly: Desmond wants to make money, and plenty of it. Look at all that potential revenue, Guv!