Desmond wins first round in battle for Five, now the real fight begins

Controversial UK media tycoon Richard Desmond looks to have emerged as the winner in the battle (actually more of a mild skirmish) to buy terrestrial broadcaster Five from Germany’s RTL.

Now Desmond, who owns the Daily Express, Daily Star, OK! magazine and a number of adult TV channels, has to persuade the broadcast regulator Ofcom (still with us despite PM David Cameron’s pre-election promise to abolish it), the Competition Commission and, ultimately, the Government that he’s a fit and proper person to be the first owner of both a national newspaper group and a free-to-air TV channel in the UK.

Should he do so he will also have to persuade some UK advertisers to overcome their reservations about him. A number of charities, particularly those targeting children’s issues, refuse to advertise in his newspapers because of his previous existence as the publisher of Penthouse and Asian Babes, among others, and his TV interests which include Television X and the Adult Channel.

This is not so much of an issue for his print titles. Charities and the like, though, are important contributors to revenue on free-to-air TV.

He is also, apparently, planning to try to persuade Big Brother producer Endemol, recently dumped by Channel 4, to take its ghastly reality show to Five.

Intriguingly Channel 4 is reported to have been late bidder for Five against Desmond. This seems rather peculiar as new boss David Abraham has repeatedly said he wasn’t interested in the station. Maybe he was just trying to force the price up.

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