Channel 5 has agreed to increase the amount of original productions and news programming in primetime following its acquisition by US broadcasting giant Viacom.
The communications regulator Ofcom today gave the formal green light to Viacom’s £463m purchase of the channel from media mogul Richard Desmond with the publication of its new licence.
The deal, which was struck in May, saw the US owner of MTV, Nickelodeon and Comedy Central buy the broadcaster and its subsidiary channels, 5* and 5USA, as well as children’s brand Milkshake! and digital catch-up TV service Demand 5.
Today’s publication of the new licence represents the final regulatory hurdle and an effective rubber-stamp on the deal.
Under the terms agreed with Ofcom, C5 has agreed to increase the minimum amount of original programmes it shows between 6.30pm and 10.30pm every day from 40% to 45%.
This covers all its UK-made programmes such as The Gadget Show and C5’s news programmes and not its roster of mainly US acquisitions like Gotham and Under the Dome and its movie repeats.
As part of the move, Channel 5 has also agreed to increase its total news output from 260 to 280 hours per year and has also extended ITN’s contract to produce its 5 News bulletins by two years to 2017.
The changes to C5’s broadcasting licence are due to run until 2025.
During the negotiations over the deal in the summer, Viacom chief executive Philippe Dauman promised to significantly increase C5’s £200m annual programming budget and said new content was the “lifeblood” of its business.
Founded in 1997, Channel 5 was owned by a consortium of backers before the RTL Group bought it in 2002. In 2010 it was bought by Daily Express and Daily Star owner Richard Desmond in a deal worth £103.5m.