channel5Chief executive of Channel 5’s new US owner promises era of investment, hailing ‘unique’ opportunity to expand in Britain.
Viacom is the third owner of Channel 5 in the last four-and-a-half years, Philippe Dauman, the chief executive of Viacom, wants to create a stavbility and growth for the channel.
Philippe Dauman currently in London to meet senior Channel 5 staff for the first time following the completion of Viacoms takeover.
Viacom is already integrating the channel, which it paid £450m for, with the rest of its UK operations, including MTV, the children’s channel Nickelodeon, and Comedy Central.

Philippe Dauman said:
“I met a lot of Channel 5 people in the last couple of days who are so delighted to be part of Viacom. Having been at a company that has been sold a couple of times in the last four or five years, they understand that they are now in the permanent hands of a media company that loves content, loves the brand and wants to grow the business.”
This is not about cost. This acquisition is about growth. It’s about opportunity. This is one of the reasons the Channel 5 staff were so welcoming of the deal.
This was not someone coming in and saying ‘OK, we’re going to slash’. On the contrary.”

This is in contrast to the former owner Richard Desmond, when he took charge, he moved the channel out of its West End offices, fired most of the board and laid off a third of Channel 5’s staff.

“We were disciplined in the auction process,” he say. “We did not know that we were going to be the winner, but we bought at a price we felt was going to be a good price.”
We’re extremely happy now we’ve been involved in the business. We have an enormous amount of collaboration already and we’re just at the tip of the iceberg at this point, says Dauman.
The advantages of cross-marketing for example are huge. You can have Nickelodeon promote Milkshake on Channel 5 and vice versa.
We looked at opportunities to expand and then this opportunity to buy Channel 5 came up, we thought it was unique. It has made progress over the last few years and we thought that we could take it, and now firmly believe that we can take it from where it is now to an even better place.

We approved the licensing of Gotham, which is a fairly expensive show, before we closed the deal because we want Channel 5 to be bigger,” says Dauman. “We went for the biggest show that was available and I think we surprised a lot of people by being the ones to get that.”

“The TV business, which is one we are very familiar with, is one where you can’t be overly reliant on any one hit. As soon as you have a hit you have to keep putting on more shows and find the next hit. There’s always a renewal.”

The constant search for new ideas will mean an increase in Viacom’s £300m annual spending on its UK channels. Currently, less than half of that budget is spent on British-made programming, but the proportion will increase as the budget increases, says Dauman.

Channel 5 will produce more programmes itself rather than buy them from third parties, allowing Viacom to show them on its US channels and sell them to other broadcasters internationally. When it does buy in programming, it will seek to use its international heft to convince producers to sell more of their rights, too.
When producers are dealing with Viacom, with Channel 5 being part of the family, they see opportunity for themselves because we are a buyer on a global basis for some of these shows and that makes us very attractive,” says Dauman.

“Channel 5 was just a unique opportunity that was just not going to present itself again in a country where we feel extremely comfortable. We have grown our investment in content every single year, including throughout the great recession by a mid-single-digit percentage and when you compound that it works out to a lot of money.”

Viacom is already backing the campaign by ITV and Channel 4 to extract retransmission fees from BSkyB and Virgin Media, which do not currently pay to carry their channels. T
That intervention, made by Dauman in a meeting with the Culture Secretary last week, sets up an awkward conversation with Jeremy Darroch, the chief executive of BSkyB, which is a longstanding commercial partner.

Philippe Dauman seems confident of a settlement and believes viewers will benefit in the long run. “When you sit down and you think about the advantages and the give and take, people usually reach a solution that is beneficial to everyone.”

He adds: “We’re not aware of any company that spends as much as we do on entertainment content. And that’s going to keep growing. The pace at which we invest will be related to the revenues we can generate, and that’s why we want multiple revenue streams.”

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By Expat