Viacom formally acquires Britain’s Channel 5

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The logo of Britain's Channel 5. (Photo: Handout)

The logo of Britain’s Channel 5. (Photo: Handout)

Britain’s fifth terrestrial television channel has a new owner.

Viacom announced on Wednesday it had completed its $724 million acquisition of Channel 5, a commercial network that launched in 1997.

“Our ownership of Channel 5 will significantly increase Viacom’s investment in British creativity and content,” Viacom executive Philippe Dauman said in a statement released to the press. “We are committed to strengthening Channel 5’s status as one of UK broadcasting’s premier brands, and we will continue to grow the network’s pipeline of original programming with more quality commissions, as well as acquisitions.”

Channel 5 has struggled for years to find a place in British homes. The channel relies heavily on foreign imports, mainly American shows, to fill its schedule. Channel 5 has changed hands several times over the past decade: Northern & Shell purchased the company from RTL Group in 2010.

Under new ownership, Viacom hopes to transform Channel 5 into a powerhouse brand that young people can identify with.┬áThe channel is currently working with sister-network Nickelodeon to produce a new animated show for Channel 5’s children’s schedule. In addition, repeats of US-based animated shows, including Spongebob SquarePants, will begin airing on the station.

Channel 5 will also enjoy a partnership with Viacom-owned MTV for reality series and music programming, the company said.

The company will keep Channel 5’s existing advertisement and sales staff post-acquisition.

Channel 5, an over-the-air broadcaster in Britain, competes against the BBC, ITV and Channel 4.