U.K.'s Sky 1 grabs keys to 'House'

Five drops bid to Hugh Laurie medical drama

LONDON -- The U.K.'s Five channel is done making "House" calls.

Sky 1 has snatched up rights for the fifth season of the Hugh Laurie medical drama from Five, after the terrestrial net said it had pulled out of the bidding for "commercial and scheduling reasons."

The decision reflects the growing difficultly that broadcasters here face when bidding for top-flight U.S. fare as a result in the collapse in the advertising market.

Sky 1, which is driven by subscription revenue, said it has signed a deal with NBC Universal International Television Distribution for first-run rights to "House" in the U.K. Second-run rights will be retained by Hallmark Channel.

Five, which has held rights to the show since 2005, said the "difficult decision" to not renew the show will free up cash for incoming director of programs Richard Woolfe to commission Five's own programs.

"We have been proud to be associated with the drama, but have taken this difficult decision for commercial and scheduling reasons," Five said in a statement.

The channel said that long-running acquired series including the "CSI" franchise and "NCIS" as well as recent addition "The Mentalist" made it "very difficult" to find a suitable slot to schedule "House."