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Channel 5 made £12.9m loss before Viacom deal

Channel 5 made a £12.9 million (US$20.1 million) loss in its final financial results before Viacom acquired the UK broadcaster for £450 million last year.

The network’s accounts for the nine months to September 30, 2014, revealed the operating loss, which compared with a £32.4 million operating profit in full-year 2013.

US giant Viacom acquired the business from Northern & Shell on September 10, and has set about partnering Channel 5 with thematic channels such as MTV through shared acquisitions and commissions in a bid to drive up ratings.

The operating loss was attributed to a review of the programming schedule “and associated inventory”, which resulted in a write-down of £18.2 million. Without this, Channel 5 would have posted operating profit of £5.2 million.

Revenues for the nine months came to £240 million, down on 2013’s £361.6 million. Viacom noted that despite “an innovative approach to commercial partnerships”, sales weakened from July after ad sales firm Omincorp decided to pull its spend. Channel 5 has since partnered with Sky Media on a new ad sales deal.

Channel 5 pointed to doc series Benefits Britain: Life on the Dole as a ratings driver during the to-October 2014 period, which came from growing in-house production arm Channel 5 Productions.

Viacom’s priority for Channel 5 is now to further integrate the free-to-air broadcaster with Viacom UK family of free and pay TV channels. Viacom launched male-slewed channel Spike in April with Channel 5 content bulking out the programming line-up.