I was never a porn baron, Desmond tells CNBC

In an in-depth and personal interview for news channel CNBC, Northern & Shell chairman Richard Desmond defends the adult magazines his company used to own, and says Rupert Murdoch isn't the "greatest manager".

The interview is part of the 'CNBC Meets’ series, which aims to look behind high-profile business figures, and shows Desmond talking about many subjects, including his thoughts on News Corporation chairman Rupert Murdoch.

The ‘CNBC Meets’ series is presented by former ‘Good Morning with Anne and Nick’ entertainment reporter Tania Bryer, who is also executive producer on the series. The Desmond interview will air on CNBC tomorrow evening (15 June) at 10pm and some clips can be seen in the video above.

When asked whether he minded being referred to as a "porn baron" or a "porn king", Desmond says the terms were "inaccurate". He says: "Porn to me is illegal and we had magazines which were sold through WH Smith, John Menzies."

Among the stable of adult titles Desmond sold off in 2004, were Asian Babes and Reader's Wives.

He says: "They were going on the same lorries that the papers go on and everything else goes on. They were sold in retail outlets and we had mainstream advertising in them. From, you know, Rothman’s cigarettes to Jaguar cars."

Murdoch is both an "inspiration" and a "rival", Desmond says, but he is not "the greatest manager" he has ever come across and says Murdoch spent too much money on his printing plant.

"[Murdoch] spent £650m on his plant. So, on that basis, we should be paying 375 for our plant, but we are paying 100 for our plant, and I’ve got to tell you, we’ve got the best equipment," says Desmond.

"So, I’m not impressed with certain things that he does, but his company is so huge that it’s very difficult for one man and he is, you know, not a youngster anymore."

That said, Desmond praises Murdoch for being "bold", having a go, and leading "from the front". Desmond says: "Without him, Sky wouldn’t be where it is today, which is a good thing.

"When he was making £300m a year on analogue Sky, he bet the ranch again, and go it all (sic) to digital, you know, and I think that everyone will agree that digital HD, 3D is a fantastic thing."

Northern & Shell added Channel 5 to its portfolio last year, after buying it from German broadcaster RTL Group. In tomorrow night’s show, Northern & Shell’s joint managing director Stan Myerson gives Desmond an update on TV trading.

Myserson tells Desmond that in April, Channel 5 ad revenue was up 36% year on year (which compares to a market that is up by around 10%) and May is looking to be 18% to 20% up, against a market that is down 4% to 6%.

Myerson says: "Year-to-date Richard, year-to-date, we’re up 24.5%."

Desmond also talks about launching celebrity magazine OK! in 1993 in a challenge to Hello!, which he claims was "dull" and "out of touch" with the British public. Desmond says taking on Hello! was the "hardest thing" the company has ever done.

Desmond explains OK! started publishing with 80,000 copies a month, to Hello!’s 600,000 a week, but with the help of Michael Jackson’s baby, the death of Princess Diana and the Beckhams it overtook its rival.

Desmond also takes some of the credit for "brand Beckham". "I saw a picture of this young footballer called David Beckham and his girlfriend Victoria Adams," Desmond says. "So, we called them into Docklands ... ‘If we can work together as a team, as a partnership, then we can help make you the King and Queen of Britain.

"David laughed, I think he fell off the chair actually. Victoria’s clever, Victoria said, ‘How?’ And it all culminated in the wedding which, I think, we all agree did them a lot of good, did us a lot of good. Probably the beginning of brand Beckham that was."

Have your say...

Before commenting please read our rules for commenting on articles.

If you see a comment you find offensive, you can flag it as inappropriate. In the top right-hand corner of an individual comment, you will see 'flag as inappropriate'. Clicking this prompts us to review the comment. For further information see our rules for commenting on articles.

comments powered by Disqus
Media Week Jobs
Search for more media jobs

Latest

Yahoo hosts exclusive X-Men: Days of Future Past films

Yahoo hosts exclusive X-Men: Days of Future Past films

Yahoo has partnered with film distributor Twentieth Century Fox to create a global content hub on its Yahoo Movies platform for new release 'X-Men: Days of Future Past'.

Share
My Media Week: Stuart Taylor

My Media Week: Stuart Taylor

This week, Stuart Taylor, chief executive, Kinetic UK, is inspired by the new tech coming to market and how wearables and smart cities will impact on OOH.

Share
IPG's UK revenue jumps 21% after Profero acquisition

IPG's UK revenue jumps 21% after Profero acquisition

Interpublic Group (IPG) the owner of Initiative, Lowe and Partners and McCann, saw its UK revenue rise 21 per cent in the first three months of this year, boosted by its acquisition of Profero.

Share

Get news by email