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.
“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!”