Viacom Closes $725 Million Acquisition of U.K.'s Channel 5

Dorothy Hong
Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman

It will start airing "SpongeBob" and the "Turtles" and send contestants of a new show back to the Stone Age

‎Viacom said on Wednesday that it has closed its $725 million (£450 million) acquisition of British broadcaster Channel 5.

‎Viacom International Media Networks announced the completion mid-day U.K. time. The deal, which was announced on May 1, closed after the company received unconditional clearance from the European Commission. 

"Our ownership of Channel 5 will significantly increase Viacom’s investment in British creativity and content," said Viacom president and CEO Philippe Dauman. "We are committed to strengthening Channel 5’s status as one of U.K. broadcasting’s premier brands, and we will continue to grow the network’s pipeline of original programming with more quality commissions, as well as acquisitions."

He added: "We are excited about our stewardship of Channel 5, and we look forward to delivering added value for our shareholders, partners and, above all, our audiences." Dauman previously said the deal will allow collaboration between the company's various TV brands in Britain, a market that has also seen other Hollywood companies make acquisitions as of late. 

Among these deals is the recently announced acquisition of U.K. production firm All3media by Discovery Communications and Liberty Global. Discovery was also among the original bidders for Channel 5 before dropping out of the auction.

Viacom on Wednesday also announced the first joint programming commissions between Channel 5 and its U.K. pay TV channels.‎

As widely expected, Viacom’s Nickelodeon will partner with Channel 5’s pre-school program strand Milkshake. They will develop a new animated series called Nella the Knight, their first co-production under Viacom's ownership. The series will be produced in the U.K. and co-funded by the partners, who will also share the TV rights as they already do with some other pre-school program, including Peppa Pig, Ben and Holly’s Little Kingdom and Bubble Guppies.

The companies also said that episodes of Nickelodeon's animated hit shows SpongeBob SquarePants and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, which the network recently renewed for a fourth season, will also begin airing on Channel 5 soon.

Meanwhile, Channel 5 and MTV UK are jointly commissioning new entertainment series 10,000 BC, in which 20 volunteers will "forgo the comforts and conveniences of modern life to go back to the Stone Age." The 10-episode hourlong series is set to premiere on Channel 5 in 2015 with a five-episode hourlong spinoff show planned for MTV UK.

Email: Georg.Szalai@THR.com
Twitter: @georgszalai

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