U.K.'s Television X, Red Hot Sold to Chris Ratcliff

Apr 4, 2016 2:36 PM PST

LONDON — Portland Television, which operates Television X and Red Hot TV subscription channels in the U.K., has been sold to its longtime managing director, Chris Ratcliff.

The deal, which closed on Friday, was worth less than £1 million, according to its previous owner — Northern & Shell Media Group.

Ratcliff, who plans on folding the channels into his Neon X brand, over the weekend tweeted: “I liked the channels so much, I bought the company.”

“Having worked on the launch of Television X in 1995 and with the channel turning 21 this year, it feels like the right thing to do,” Ratcliff told XBIZ on Monday. “It’s time to take the business to the next level and reassert Television X’s position in a converged media space in the U.K. and beyond.”

“We’ve got strong brands, excellent programming, a loyal fan base and a great team to drive the business forward,” Ratcliff said.

Portland Television, based in London’s Docklands, also operates three pay-per-night TV channels, including Viewers’ Wives and Red Hot, as well as two on-demand online services, TelevisionX.com and RedHotHard.com.  

Portland TV had other assets, including broadcasting facilities, but these were sold off prior to the sale.

Ratcliff was involved in the launch of Portland TV’s Television X in 1995. He rejoined the company 2008 and has been its managing director since 2013.

Ratcliff said the acquisition will allow him to be more vocal about the regulation of adult content in the U.K.

“U.K. adult businesses have been disadvantaged by burdensome regulations while unregulated offshore operators have been given free rein to plunder the market,” Ratcliff said.

“The current government consultation on age verification for pornography presents a fantastic opportunity to ensure children are protected from inappropriate online content, safeguard adults’ rights to view legal adult entertainment and level the playing field for all adult providers irrespective of delivery method or jurisdiction,” he said.

The seller, Northern & Shell, which is primarily owned by businessman Richard Desmond operates four U.K. newspaper titles, including the Daily Express and Daily Star, and celebrity magazines OK! And Star.

The deal marks the Northern & Shell’s complete exit from the adult entertainment industry. The company sold several adult magazine titles, including Asian Babes and Big Ones, for about £20 million in 2004.

Rob Sanderson, a spokesman for Northern & Shell Group, said, “We are pleased to conclude the sale of Portland TV operations, which were non-core to Northern & Shell’s strategic interests, and we believe the deal with Chris Ratcliff creates the best opportunity for the Portland business to continue to develop in the U.K. broadcasting market.”

The Portland TV deal comes as Playboy Enterprises, across the Atlantic, explores a potential sale for an estimated $500 million. The storied magazine publisher and brand owner has reportedly hired investment bank Moelis & Co. to advise and auction off the company.

And, in mid-February, industry icon and Penthouse Entertainment’s longtime president, Kelly Holland, acquired assets of the company from FriendFinder Networks for an undisclosed sum.

Pictured: Chris Ratcliff

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