Northern & Shell

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Northern & Shell Network Ltd
Limited company
Founded December 1974
Founder Richard Desmond
Headquarters City of London, United Kingdom
Services Publishing and television
Owner Richard Desmond
Subsidiaries Express Newspapers
Portland TV
The Northern & Shell Building in front of Tower 42, with 20 Fenchurch Street under construction, in August 2012.

Northern & Shell (holding company name Northern and Shell Network Ltd) is a British publishing group, launched and founded in December 1974 and currently owned by Richard Desmond. It publishes the Daily Express, Sunday Express, Daily Star and Daily Star Sunday, and the magazines OK!, and New!, Star. Northern & Shell also owned three entertainment television channels: Channel 5, 5* and 5USA until 2015. It owned Portland TV,[1] which operates adult TV channels including Television X and Red Hot TV; the company sold Portland in April 2016.[2]


Desmond founded Northern and Shell in 1974 and launched a magazine called International Musician and Recording World. In 1983, Northern and Shell obtained the licence to publish Penthouse in the United Kingdom which led to its publishing a range of adult titles,[3] Asian Babes among them.[4][5] These titles were later sold in 2004. It was the first company to move to the revamped Docklands and the Princess Royal opened the offices. When the company moved to the Northern & Shell Tower Prince Philip opened the offices.

Northern & Shell also publishes a wide range of magazines including the celebrity weekly, OK!, started as a monthly in 1993.

In November 2000 Northern & Shell acquired Express Newspapers from United News & Media for £125m.[6] enlarging the group to include the Daily and Sunday Express titles, the Daily Star and Daily Star Sunday (which Desmond started), and the Irish Star (owned jointly with the Irish Independent group). The Daily and Sunday Express each sell around 700,000 copies per issue.[7] Northern & Shell had borrowed £97 million (approximately US$190 million) for the Express group purchase. Northern & Shell's "portfolio" of soft-porn magazines was offered for sale in 2001 in order to provide cash to invest in the then newly acquired Express Newspapers group. Some viewed the sale as an attempt to distance the company from the pornography business, but most analysts believed it to be only a financial move as The Fantasy Channel, Northern and Shell's adult cable channel, wasn't included in the sale.[8]

In 2004 Northern & Shell sought acquisition of additional publications — The Spectator and The Daily Telegraph, along with its sister publication The Sunday Telegraph. It was unsuccessful in its bid for The Telegraph, losing out to David and Frederick Barclay, who had long sought to own the paper.[9]

On 23 July 2010, Northern & Shell bought Channel 5 Broadcasting Limited, which operates Channel 5, 5* and 5USA for €125 million (£103.5 million) from the RTL Group.[10] On 1 May 2014, the channels were sold to Viacom for £450 million (US$759 million).[11]

In 2013, Northern & Shell announced that its TV listing magazine TV Pick would no longer be published.[12]

In 2014, Northern & Shell invested in a series of startups under the brand Northern & Shell Ventures.[13] This included investments in OpenRent, Tepilo and Lulu.[14][15]


  1. ^ "Portland TV". Portland TV. Retrieved 2013-06-26. 
  2. ^ "Richard desmond sells adult tv channels for less than £1m". Campaign. Campaign Live. Retrieved 2016-08-31. 
  3. ^ "About Northern & Shell". Northern and Shell. N&S Network. Retrieved 2006-12-22. 
  4. ^ Jane Arthurs, Jean Grimshaw, "Women's bodies: discipline and transgression", Continuum International Publishing Group, 1999, ISBN 0-304-33963-6, pp.191-192
  5. ^ Clarissa Smith, "One for the girls!: the pleasures and practices of reading women's porn", European Communication Research and Education Association Series, Intellect Books, 2007, ISBN 1-84150-164-6, p.57
  6. ^ Jorn Madslien (12 February 2006). "Profile: Richard Desmond". BBC. 
  7. ^ "ABC Circulation Figures". Audit Bureau of Circulations. Retrieved 2009-02-04.  (December 2008)
  8. ^ "Desmond to sell 'adult' titles". BBC News Online: Business. BBC. 2001-01-11. Retrieved 2006-12-22. 
  9. ^ Ben Richardson (2004-06-23). "Does the Telegraph bid add up?". BBC News Online Analysis. BBC. Retrieved 2006-12-22. 
  10. ^ "RTL Group sells UK broadcaster Five" (Press release). RTL Group. 23 July 2010. Retrieved 24 July 2010. 
  11. ^ "Viacom to buy Channel 5 for £450m". BBC News. 1 May 2014. Retrieved 1 May 2014. 
  12. ^ "Desmond's TV Pick closes after 22 issues". The Guardian. 29 July 2014. Retrieved 4 July 2015. 
  13. ^ "Northern & Shell Ventures". 
  14. ^ Steve, O'Hear. "Online Renting Service OpenRent Scores Media-For-Equity Deal From Northern & Shell Ventures". TechCrunch. 
  15. ^ "Richard Desmond: Google are gangsters, but wear fantastic sweaters". 

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