Richard Desmond plans to fully integrate Channel 5 with newspaper titles

Express Newspapers proprietor Richard Desmond has revealed that he plans to fully integrate TV station Channel 5 with his four national newspaper titles.

And he said that last year he offered Rupert Murdoch £1bn for his four UK national newspaper titles.

In wide-ranging and revealing interview with Chris Blackhurst for Management Today he said:

“When we bought Channel 5, I took the draft agreement into a meeting of all our editors, of the Daily Express, Sunday Express, Daily Star, Daily Star Sunday and OK!, for them to read. They all said: ‘Blimey.’ I said: “If we buy this channel, we’ve all got to be together. We’ve got to fully integrate it – which is the only way it will work.'”

Desmond also claims in the interview that after buying the station at the end of July for £104m it has already moved into profit (after losing £34m the previous year).

The piece also ranges over Desmond’s start at the bottom of the media business ladder as a 15-year-old ad salesman for Thomson trade magazines, his launch of International Musician and other trade magazines before moving into porn, consumer magazines and then newspapers.

Here’s a link to full interview, but here are some more stand-out quotes:

On his libel defeat last year at the High Court with Conrad Black biographer Tom Bower:

“I won that case conclusively because I showed I don’t order my editors to write things and I didn’t give in to Conrad Black. The fact the jury thought Bower was right and I was wrong, I don’t care.”

What he plans to buy next:

“A year ago, I walked into Rupert Murdoch’s office in New York with £1bn in my pocket. I said I wanted to buy News International for £1bn. Rupert said he didn’t want to sell but he acknowledged it was a good offer…I normally get what I want, I’m patient.”

On turning around OK! magazine:

“When OK! was failing between 1993 and 1996 and we lost £20m, that was everything I had in the world. I could see the house going. I wanted Michael Jackson’s baby’s pictures. He wouldn’t sell. I offered $1m, then $1.5m. I had a banker’s draft sent to him in LA for $2.1m and I got it. That was my money. It was one of the turning points for OK!”

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