RTL Buys Remaining Stake in UK's Channel Five

22 July 2005

Europe's largest TV broadcaster, Bertelsmann-owned RTL Group, is set to buy the 35% stake held by United Business Media to take full control of British television channel Five.

The £247.6 million (€355.6m; $432.1m) cash purchase of UBM's holding in the UK terrestrial channel has been expected for months and adds to RTL's growing stable of 31 TV channels and 33 radio stations in ten countries.

A spokesman for the Luxembourg-based broadcaster said that full ownership of Five "gives us greater flexibility and freedom to develop it", revealing that it is considering plans to expand the station with the £1m it has available this year for acquisitions and mergers and the £487m-£696m a year thereafter.

An increase in Five's programming budget is also expected, together with an investment in digital channels. Its share of the UK audience and advertising markets has recently grown to 6.5% and 8% respectively.

The deal is subject to approval by media regulator Ofcom, but is expected to close in the autumn.

Data sourced from Financial Times Online; additional content by WARC staff