Discovery Communications and BSkyB are on the verge of confirming a £350million deal to buy Big Brother broadcaster Channel 5 from Richard Desmond, it is claimed.
Industry magazine Broadcast suggests that Desmond will push ahead with the sale after the deadline for final bids expired yesterday.
The two media giants’ joint venture remains the favourite in the race, with Discovery believed to have a 70% stake – while Sky’s 30% will enable them to take over C5′s advertising sales, as previously reported.
Their £350million offer is half of Desmond’s £700m asking price, but more than three times the £103.5m he purchased C5 for in 2010. It also tops the £300m mark that analysts expected bids to fall under.
Discovery declined to comment, but a Channel 5 spokesperson was keen to point out that an agreement – which would be subject to regulatory approval – has not been finalised.
“We have a number of bids as expected, which we will evaluate with our advisors over the next few days,” they commented. “Certainly no deal has been done.”
Meanwhile, there is still no indication of what will happen to Big Brother when its current C5 deal expires later this year, despite recent speculation that ITV and its former home Channel 4 may be interested in acquiring the rights to the show.
Although Desmond is thought to fund BB from its own cash pot, sources have suggested that Discovery is planning to increase C5′s main programming budget by more than double.
Big Brother returns in June for its fifteenth civilian and fourteenth Celebrity series.