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Channel 4 in line for ‘Osbournes’

Channel 5 believed only rival

LONDON — Channel 4 is expected to clinch U.K. terrestrial rights to “The Osbournes,” MTV’s ratings-grabbing, fly-on-the-wall series chronicling the dysfunctional family life of ex-Black Sabbath frontman Ozzy Osbourne.

In a rerun of the recent bidding war with rival Channel 5 for “The Simpsons,” for which C4 paid a record-breaking £700,000 ($1 million) per episode, sources at C4 suggested the company was “in the latter stages of negotiation” for “Osbournes” with MTV.

C4, which has an output deal with MTV, is said to be bidding $150,000 an episode.

Not out of the picture

However, it is possible that C5, which like C4 needs to keep advertisers happy by appealing to the under-35 crowd, might attempt to outbid C4 at the last minute.

“Osbournes” made its U.K. debut on MTV last weekend, echoing its U.S. success when it gave MTV its highest-ever viewership, a fact that will not have gone unnoticed by the terrestrials who want to secure the real-life soap opera.

It is believed that main commercial web ITV and pubcaster BBC expressed interest in the show, but dropped out as the price rose.