MTV owner Viacom has agreed to buy Channel 5 for £450 million, it was announced today.
Viacom, which owns cable networks such as MTV, Nickelodeon and Comedy Central, said it would look to introduce more UK-created content to global audiences.
It said Channel 5's programmes were viewed by 42 million people every month and its acquisition brought it the only commercial public service broadcaster to grow viewer share consistently in recent years.
Viacom chief executive Philippe Dauman said: "Viacom's global resources, technology and expertise will help Channel 5 develop even more compelling programming and provide content to consumers in exciting new ways."
Channel 5's chief operating officer, Paul Dunthorne, said the deal offered "numerous exciting opportunities for the channel's future".
A former detective who was involved in the Jimmy Savile abuse inquiry is among the contestants who entered the Big Brother house tonight.
Daniel Neal joined the Channel 5 show a day after his former employer, the Met Police, warned the broadcaster of the dangers of putting him on screen.
Scotland Yard contacted the broadcaster afterdetails first emerged about Mr Neal's previous career and his work on Operation Yewtree, the investigation into Savile.
Before entering the house Dan clarified he was no longer working as a police officer, adding: "I've done ten-and-a-half years in the police and i've worked really hard, I've achieved a lot and had a rewarding career.
"I just need a change. I want to explore the creative side of my personality."
A former police officer has told the Daily Star his decision to enter the Big Brother house won't damage the reputation of the police.
The Star says former Detective Constable Dan Neal worked on Operation Yewtree - the investigation into Jimmy Savile.
Scotland Yard has warned Big Brother broadcaster Channel 5 over the risks of having a former police officer as a contestant.
But Dan Neal told the Daily Star: "I don’t want to embarrass myself, let alone the police service. So I honestly don’t think it should have any impact on the investigation.
“It’s a game show at the end of the day. I don’t see how it would affect the image of the police."
A former Operation Yewtree police officer who is reportedly expected to enter the Big Brother house today has spoken to the Daily Star about his motivation for taking part in the show.
Dan Neal said it had not been a "rash decision" and he does not want to "embarrass himself, let alone the police service".
Scotland Yard has warned Channel 5 over the risks of having an officer who worked on the Jimmy Savile abuse inquiry on the show.
Neal said: "I think there will be some concern within the police, but ultimately I wouldn’t want to jeopardise a lot of the work I did with victims in the last eight months.”
He also blamed the Government for wanting to leave the force, adding: "The police have made a lot of changes in the last year or so. There have been a lot of changes to our pensions. I’m blaming the Government for me going into Big Brother"
Channel 5 does have a safety net to ensure sensitive or potentially prejudicial material does not make it on to the television sets of the British public, because the show is never broadcast absolutely live.
Programmes such as the "live" entries and evictions have a two- to three-minute delay, while the two-hour "live" feed from 7pm to 9pm each night on 5* has a delay of around 15 minutes.
The former detective, who has not been identified, is expected to enter the Big Brother house tomorrow.
A Big Brother insider is reported to have told the Daily Star, which is owned by the same media mogul who owns Channel 5: “The housemate knows they are going to hit the headlines over this. Leaving the police force to go into the Big Brother house is a massive move.
“Their former bosses are going to be shocked about their decision to join the show and naturally will be worried about what might be said inside the house.
“This person has seen a lot of bad things while working on Operation Yewtree.
"They will know what can and can’t be said inside the house but it’s only natural for their housemates to want to try to get as much gossip as possible.”
The Daily Star alleges the contestant is an ex-detective constable "who played a key role" on the Jimmy Savile abuse inquiry.
Police have warned Big Brother broadcaster Channel 5 over the risks of having a former police officer as a contestant.
Scotland Yard said it had contacted the television station after the Daily Star claimed a detective constable who it says "played a key role in Operation Yewtree" - the investigation into Jimmy Saville - will be appearing on the show.
Scotland Yard said it had made the broadcaster aware of "potential risks" to ongoing police investigations and reminded the company of its "responsibility".