Fears that Channel 5’s present ‘tacky’ image is deterring advertisers and limiting business opportunities have spurred controlling shareholder RTL Group into demanding a clean-up.

A significant proportion of advertisers and media planners are said to avoid buying time after 10pm to avoid associating their products with soft-porn programmes.

A gift to tabloids feigning outrage (“Channel Filth”, foamed the Daily Mail), Five’s recent output includes a competition to find Britain's table dancer of the year and a nude Keith Chegwin full-frontal-ing a quiz show.

According to a C5 mole: “We are not talking about eradicating the erotica, but changing the emphasis and getting rid of the tacky. This may mean a very quick end to the career of Keith Chegwin's bits.”

RTL now plans to increase spending on programming, currently run on a shoestring - just £130 million last year. But insiders say the investment is conditional on a radical improvement in the station’s present image and a shift in programme emphasis from titillation to popular quality.

Launched in 1997, Channel 5 has come from nowhere to an audience share over 6% and a market value in excess of £1.1 billion.

RTL Group, which has pan-European broadcasting interests and owns 65% of Channel 5, declined to comment.

News source: Financial Times