Richard Desmond is to complete the sale of Channel 5 to MTV owner Viacom for up to £450 million, it was reported today.
The Guardian said the deal will be announced in New York later by Viacom, which also owns children’s channel Nickelodeon and Comedy Central.
It is expected to fall short of the £700 million price tag put on the business by Mr Desmond, who also owns the Daily Express and Daily Star newspapers through his Northern & Shell company.
But it represents a significant profit on the £103.5 million he paid to buy the then loss-making channel from German broadcaster RTL in 2010.
It would mark the first time that a US broadcaster has taken control of one of the UK’s five free-to-air channels.
Channel Five was launched in 1997 and broadcasts popular shows such as Neighbours. Under Mr Desmond, it revived Big Brother after the show was axed by Channel 4.
The business also includes the 5* and 5 USA channels as well as +1 variants showing them an hour later.
Viacom’s investment in entertainment, reality and children’s television is seen as making it a good fit with Channel 5’s current schedules.
A spokesman for Viacom declined to comment. Northern & Shell could not immediately be reached for comment.