The City of London and Wall Street are reportedly rife with rumours that British splatterpunk peddler Richard Desmond is mulling a joint bid for ITV, the nation's largest commercial television company.

Desmond, these days semi-sanitized by his proprietorship of four national newspapers, also runs two pornographic TV channels, Red Hot and Television X via his privately-held company Northern & Shell. Until 2004, he was also the proud proprietor of such unsavoury magazine titles as Asian Babes, Big Ones and Readers' Wives.

Word within financial circles is that Desmond - reportedly Britain's 25th richest man - is seeking a private equity partner to help bolster his TV ambitions.

Observers point to recent upward (if half-hearted) movements in ITV's share price which, given the continuing flow of southbound viewing numbers, is surprising. Some analysts believe this suggests possible bid activity.

Although WAMN usually spikes such unsubstantiated rumours, a move on ITV would not be uncharacteristic of Desmond who, his associates say, is driven as much by ego and a desire to join the 'establishment' as he is by commercial logic.

Northern and Shell was reportedly 'not available for comment' on the matter.

Data sourced from BrandRepublic (UK); additional content by WARC staff