Richard Desmond

Richard Desmond is the current owner of Express Newspapers (through Northern & Shell, which also publishes the celebrity magazine OK! and the boob-heavy tabloid Daily Star).

Previously, Desmond also owned two other companies; Portland Investments and Fantasy Publications. It was through these that he profited from magazines such as Asian Babes, Horny Housewives, Readers’ Wives, 40 Plus, Big & Black, Big Ones International and Spunk-Loving Sluts.

Desmond sold his adult magazine titles to Remnant Media in February 2004 in an attempt to clean up his public image as part of a (failed) bid to own The Daily Telegraph, but he still owns Portland TV, which in turn owns the series of pornographic channels operating under Television X and Red Hot TV.

He has also recently purchased the not-quite-mainstream terrestrial channel Five;

Independent – Knives at Five: Can Richard Desmond rescue his new channel?

Richard Desmond has wasted no time in razing the broadcaster formerly known as Five to the ground, and has already set about building the all-new Channel 5 on top of the smouldering ashes. The media tycoon, who sealed a £103.5m deal for the beleaguered broadcaster at the end of July, yesterday took his first radical step in reshaping it.

Despite a dramatic cost-cutting drive during the downturn, Desmond has left employees reeling as he axed seven out of the nine executive-board directors and revealed plans to slash 80 further jobs. The brutal cuts have been dubbed “the night of the long knives”.

His company, Northern & Shell, which owns the Express and Star titles as well as OK!, released a statement saying that this was “the first of many initiatives that will see a new streamlined Channel 5 make enormous strides over the coming years”. As part of the statement, Desmond revealed that he has scrapped the “Five” brand and will turn back to its original launch-name of Channel 5. Now all eyes are on his next move, as he sets about building a business that he wants to “go toe-to-toe with the biggest players in the TV world”.

He is known to be quite touchy about being described as ‘Richard Desmond the pornographer,’ and we can appreciate that. He does, after all, control a considerable amount of mainstream media, so perhaps ‘Richard Desmond the media magnate’ would be a more apt title in his view. He is also known to be conspicuously generous to a number of children’s charities, so he might instead prefer ‘Richard Desmond the philanthropist’, but we doubt this will take.

One is reminded of the sad tale of Mr Jones who, legend has it, lived in a small village in Wales and was once met by a visiting journalist who asked him his name. Sadly, Mr Jones passed away many years ago, but his irate reply to the journalist survives to this day:

“See that line of houses over there? I built them all, but do they call me Jones the house builder? Do they hell! See those railway lines over there? I laid them all, but do they call me Jones the engineer? Do they hell! See those bridges over that river? I built them all, but do they call me Jones the bridge builder? Do they hell! But you shag *one* sheep and…”

Mr Jones was right to feel wronged. It would appear from his claims that he achieved a great many things in his life, and that his achievements were unfairly overshadowed by a single indiscretion.

Perhaps Richard Desmond feels the same way, despite his balls-deep involvement with a wide range of pornographic interests stretching back decades, so we’re going to make him an offer: throw open the books, and let us crunch the numbers!

If we’re to measure the part pornography played in the building of his empire, and what percentage of that empire is currently involved in the production, distribution or broadcast of pornography (be it soft, heavy, big, bouncy or otherwise), we’ll need to see some numbers that we can balance against the sector of his empire that was/is not involved in the production, distribution or broadcast of pornography (be it soft, heavy, big, bouncy or otherwise). Then we can make some informed decisions about the prominence of the title ‘media magnate’ and if it should go before or after ‘pornographer’

While we’re there, we can also calculate what percentage of this cash went to children’s charities so we can position and typeset the label of ‘philanthropist’ accordingly.

But until that happens, we plan on running with ‘pornographer’ first. In bold type. In fact, let’s try it on for size right now;

Richard Desmond is a pornographer.

Yep. Feels right. And if there’s any justice, it’ll stick to Desmond like Velcro gloves to a sheep.

Tim Ireland