US media group Viacom in increasing its expansion into the U.K with its purchase of Channel 5 for $760m (£450m), which is currently owned by Northern & Shell Media Group, which is in turn owned by British publisher Richard Desmond. The news comes as Viacom posted higher earnings and revenue for the first three months of the year.

Channel 5

The deal adds Channel 5 to a host of networks already owned by Viacom, including BET, Centric, MTV, VH1 and Comedy Central. The company’s president and chief executive, Philippe Dauman, said: "Channel 5's momentum is indisputable, with impactful programming, increasing popularity and a growing digital platform.

"Channel 5's management and employees have done an outstanding job building their brand and we are pleased to welcome them to our team." Channel 5's chief operating officer, Paul Dunthorne, said the business had been "transformed" since Northern & Shell bought it in 2010.

He added: "The combination of Channel 5 with Viacom's global resources, technology and expertise adds further to the momentum of the business and offers numerous exciting opportunities for the channel's future."

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Channel 5 was launched in March 1997 as the UK's fifth terrestrial TV channel. Its most popular shows currently include Big Brother and Celebrity Big Brother, as well as Australian soap operas Neighbours and Home And Away. But the channel did have the hugely popular Breaking Bad for the meth drama’s first 2 seasons, bringing it to the U.K before Netflix.

The U.K. channel will likely benefit from Viacom's wider advertising reach and its deep footprint in managing channels, said Informa Telecoms and Media analyst Edward Barton, via The Wall Street Journal. "Viacom is much deeper invested into television than Northern & Shell," he added. "With Northern & Shell, investment in programming was pared back. It was [trying] to get the biggest bang for not very much buck."