NCIS: LA for Channel 5 as Desmond steps down

UK terrestrial Channel 5 has acquired season one of CBS procedural NCIS: Los Angeles as its owner, Richard Desmond, steps down as a director ahead of a potential sale.

The free-to-air network will begin airing the CBS Television Studios NCIS spin-off, which stars Chris O’Donnell and LL Cool J, on February 28 in a 10pm slot.

The deal is free-to-air rights for season one, which previously went out in the UK on satcaster Sky 1, which had first window rights, though that deal has now lapsed. Sky is currently broadcasting season five and remains the exclusive rights holder of seasons two through five.

Channel 5 already runs NCIS and head of acquisitions Katie Keenan described the new pick-up as a “slick addition to the franchise”.

This all comes as an Independent newspaper report revealed Channel 5 owner Richard Desmond has stepped down from the board of parent company Channel 5 Broadcasting, along with other senior executives.

The paper also reports Desmond has sent out a detailed information memorandum, including financial information, to prospective buyers and is said to have set a deadline of February 27 for initial offers.

With Channel 5’s financial state in much better shape than when Desmond’s Northern & Shell acquired it four years ago from European broadcasting group RTL for £103.5 million (US$172.5 million), he could seek up to £700 million on a sale.

NBCUniversal, Turner Broadcasting, Scripps Networks Interactive and Discovery Communications have all reportedly expressed interest in the business, along with BSkyB and BT.