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Viacom Wraps Purchase of U.K.’s Channel 5, Commissions Joint Projects

'SpongeBob SquarePants,' 'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles' to air on Channel 5

LONDON — Viacom Intl. Media Networks has wrapped its £450 million ($726 million) acquisition of U.K. free-to-air network Channel 5. Viacom also unveiled the first joint commissions between Channel 5 and Viacom’s U.K. pay TV channels.

The deal with Channel 5’s previous owners Northern & Shell Media Group, which was announced in May, was closed after receiving unconditional clearance from the European Commission.

Philippe Dauman, Viacom president and CEO, said: “Our ownership of Channel 5 will significantly increase Viacom’s investment in British creativity and content. We are committed to strengthening Channel 5’s status as one of U.K. broadcasting’s premier brands, and we will continue to grow the network’s pipeline of original programming with more quality commissions, as well as acquisitions.”

Dauman added that the addition of Channel 5 will also benefit Viacom’s U.K. pay TV channel portfolio, as demonstrated by the announcement of its first two original programming commissions.

Viacom’s Nickelodeon is joining forces with Channel 5’s pre-school strand, Milkshake, to develop a new animated series, “Nella the Knight,” intended to be their first co-production under Viacom ownership.

The series will be produced in the U.K. and co-funded by the two broadcasters, who will share broadcast rights, as they already do with a variety of other pre-school programs, including “Peppa Pig,” “Ben and Holly’s Little Kingdom” and “Bubble Guppies.” Episodes of “SpongeBob SquarePants” and “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” will also begin airing on Channel 5.

In addition, Channel 5 and Viacom’s MTV U.K. are jointly commissioning a new entertainment series, “10,000 BC,” in which 20 volunteers will forgo the comforts and conveniences of modern life to go back to the Stone Age. A 10-episode hour-long series is being produced by The Garden and GroupM Entertainment to premiere on Channel 5 in 2015 with a five-episode hour-long spin-off show airing on MTV U.K.

Viacom has confirmed Channel 5’s advertising sales team will be retained following the closure of the deal, and will continue to sell the network’s airtime.

Channel 5’s commercial director of sales, Nick Bampton, and its chief operating officer, Paul Dunthorne, will report separately to David Lynn, exec VP, managing director of VIMN U.K., and join his U.K. senior management team, along with Channel 5’s program director, Ben Frow.

Lynn said: “Channel 5’s senior executive and sales teams continue to perform strongly, and, with an innovative approach to commercial partnerships, have delivered great results.”

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