Richard Desmond, owner of Express Newspapers, is seen as a frontrunner to buy UK terrestrial channel Five. Other bidders include John De Mol, founder of TV producer Endemol (Big Brother), and Endemol itself, which De Mol’s investment company Cyrte Investments owns one third of.
You may wonder, as I have, why De Mol would want to bid against a company he indirectly owns part of? The answer is, apparently, that there’s no love lost between De Mol and the company he co-founded back in the 1990s. De Mol’s Cyrte Investments has reportedly teamed up with Talpa Media and Greece’s Antenna Group for De Mol’s personal bid, says the Financial Times.
Analysts believe that RTL wants up to $245 million for Five. It is difficult to put a price on Five because, although it is loss-making, it has a strategic value which belies its place in the market. Five also owns desirable slots on the Freeview digital terrestrial TV service. Like newspapers, there’s bragging rights in owning a TV station. Not many come up for sale. That’s why they’re so prized.
Desmond is a colourful character with a £950 million ($1.4 billion) fortune. His TV interests include digital porn channels Television X and Red Hot TV.
BSkyB was kicking the tyres on Five, as was Time Warner, but both have walked away.