The newspaper tycoon is in pole position to win control of Five, reports the Sunday Times. Deadline predicted Desmond would take over the channel three weeks ago. Desmond will honour long-term US programming contracts for shows include CSI and Law & Order, but will bring in more reality TV and chat-shows. Endemol is interested in bringing its Big Brother over to Five even though it decided not to bid for the channel. Desmond will also maintain Five’s public-service commitments – i.e. regular news bulletins – in order to keep that valuable high ranking on pay-TV electronic programme guides. But staff members are braced for redundancies.
EXCLUSIVE: The European TV producer Endemol will not be among those bidding for the UK’s fifth terrestrial channel. ITV has also walked away from the auction, as has BSkyB and Time Warner. Endemol’s founder John De Mol is bidding, as is Richard Desmond, owner of Express Newspapers. Endemol may still try and get its Big Brother TV show on Five though. RTL wants up to $234 million for the loss-making TV channel. This is beginning to resemble a game of musical chairs. Every time the music stops, another would-be bidder walks off. Endemol was unavailable for comment.