Media company Viacom Inc. has significantly expanded its international footprint by buying television outlet Channel 5 Broadcasting in Britain.
Several other U.S. media companies had been interested in Channel 5, which launched in 1997 as Britain's fifth public broadcasting service.
“The acquisition of Channel 5 accelerates Viacom’s strategy in the U.K., one of the world’s most important and valuable media markets,” Viacom Chief Executive Philippe Dauman said in a statement announcing the move.
"We believe we will be able to invest in even more programming for Channel 5," Dauman told analysts Thursday morning on a conference call to discuss Viacom earnings. He said Viacom would pay cash for the channel.
The deal is subject to regulatory approvals.
Channel 5 Broadcasting, currently held by Northern & Shell Media Group, also includes a children's programming service called Milkshake! The service, which airs a morning block of programming with such characters as Peppa Pig, should benefit from Viacom's stable of Nickelodeon characters.
Viacom, which is controlled by mogul Sumner Redstone, entered the British market in 1987 with the launch of its MTV channel there.
Desmond's Northern & Shell bought the channel about four years ago for 103 million pounds (roughly $150 million). Northern & Shell is selling the channel for more than four times that amount.
“Since Northern & Shell's acquisition of Channel 5 in 2010, the financial and operating performance of the business has been transformed with improved audiences and content offering," Paul Dunthorne, chief operating officer of Channel 5, said in a statement announcing the channel's sale.