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Channel 5 to seek new revenue streams

nullLONDON - Dawn Airey, chief executive of Channel 5, has revealed that the broadcaster plans to move into retailing and merchandising in an attempt to strengthen its balance sheet in the face of the current advertising downturn.

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The channel, jointly owned by United Business Media and pan-European broadcaster RTL Group, operates on a budget of £150m a year. This is around the third of the budgets of Channel 4 and BBC2.

Speaking at the Edinburgh Television Festival, Airey said, "We cannot rely on robust revenues coming in. We have the eyeballs and we have to monetise that audience." She used the example of French channel M6, which makes around £90m a year from home shopping and direct marketing.

The broadcaster is expected to look into ways of making money from opportunities linked to its programmes, and possibly offering home shopping during quiet periods.

Meanwhile, the channel's biggest shareholder RTL, which owns 65% of Channel 5, looks set to miss its second self-imposed deadline to list on the London Stock Exchange.

When it inherited the channel through its merger with Pearson Television, RTL pledged that it would issue enough shares to ensure a 15% flotation in London, the minimum amount required for inclusion in the FTSE 100, within 12 months.

RTL chief executive Didier Bellens postponed a flotation earlier this year, agreeing to float the company in September. However, it is believed that the current downturn in advertising and media stocks has made members of its board hesitant to go for a full listing in London. The offering is now believed to have been shelved.

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