Discovery and BSkyB to make joint C5 bid

February 24, 2014 10.52 Europe/London By Julian Clover

NeighboursDiscovery Channel and BSkyB are close to making a joint bid for Channel 5 after the terrestrial broadcast was put up for sale by owner Richard Desmond.

Mr Desmond, the owner of Express Newspapers, has put a pricetag of £700 million on the channel he bought from RTL in 2010 for £104 million. In the intervening period he has ruthlessly cut costs, focussing on an unashamed downmarket programming mix, including Big Brother that had previously been dropped by Channel 4.

Bids are due to be in by Thursday.

Channel 5 was launched in 1997 and is also home to popular Australian soaps Home & Away and Neighbours (pictured). It also runs the channels 5 USA, 5* and the VOD service Demand 5.

Discovery has been slowly building its portfolio outside the documentary genre with the purchase of SBS Scandinavia’s general entertainment interests and most recently spending €345 million on taking its share in Eurosport from 20% to 51%.

BSkyB already has a terrestrial outlet – both Sky News and entertainment Pick TV are available on the Freeview platform – but there is nothing like EPG real estate to build an audience as Discovery has shown through its many spin-offs.