Desmond pays £1m bill for 'Don't Stop Believing'

Shine Group, the TV producer run by Elisabeth Murdoch, has settled its dispute with Richard Desmond's Northern & Shell group over payment for 'Don't Stop Believing', the show produced with GroupM Entertainment for Channel 5/Five.

Don't Stop Believing: Channel 5 show in legal wrangle
Don't Stop Believing: Channel 5 show in legal wrangle

Earlier this month (18 October) Shine Group started legal proceedings against Northern & Shell to recover unpaid fees for the show and instructed law firm Reed Smith to use "all legal recourse" to recover the near £1m debt.

At the time a spokesman for Shine said the group was "standing up" to N&S in a show of support for independent Channel 5 programme makers who are "threatened with insolvency by N&S's refusal to pay overdue bills".

Initially sources suggested that N&S was trying to cut the fees paid for 'Don't Stop Believing' to recover the money spent on marketing the programme and because, N&S suggested, it had underperformed.

N&S bought Channel 5 from European broadcaster RTL for £103.5m on 23 July, five days after the first showing of 'Don't Stop Believing', which debuted with an average audience of 1.46 million viewers.

The first episode of 'Don’t Stop Believing' was the third most popular entertainment programme to air on Channel 5 but the show's audience fluctuated and the fifth and final episode had an average audience of 844,000 viewers, a 5% share, on 22 August.

A spokesman for Shine Group said: "Shine Group can confirm that payment of all remaining instalments for 'Don’t Stop Believing' has now been received. As such planned legal action to recoup these payments does not need to be pursued."

It is understood that the delay was caused by the new management taking time to review its new business and a spokesman for Shine Group said the settlement follows Shine Group facilitating further reviews of the programme's accounts for Channel 5, after which it was confirmed that no outstanding questions remain.

The much hyped 'Don't Stop Believing' suffered from a fluctuating time slot, moving four times in five weeks, but figures from Shine Group suggest that by the end of the series it reached over 10.5 million people and attracted the highest ever ABC1 skew out of all entertainment series on 5 since 2002.

A spokeswoman for Northern & Shell had not responded to requests for comment by the time of publication and a spokesman for GroupM Entertainment declined to comment.

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