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Thursday, 1 August, 2002, 10:07 GMT 11:07 UK
Channel 5 bags blockbusters
Men In Black
Men In Black II is a US box office hit
Channel 5 has bought the rights to show blockbuster films including Spider-Man and Men In Black II as part of its drive for more viewers and credibility.

The channel has signed a deal with movie studio Columbia TriStar, and will also cover the terrestrial rights to other films including Panic Room, starring Jodie Foster, and Ridley Scott's Black Hawk Down.

Channel 5 has previously been known as the home of cheaper or older movies.

But a concerted effort to drag it away from its trashy image to compete with the other channels has been made by its director of programmes, Kevin Lygo.

The Columbia TriStar deal also includes the rights to screen a controversial US cop drama, The Shield, that portrays rogue police officers.

The LA police department complained about the show when it was screened in the US, and some advertisers boycotted it, but it won critical acclaim and a string of award nominations.

The films will be seen on Channel 5 from 2004, although they will be on Sky's digital movie channels first.

"This is a terrific deal that will strengthen our already impressive portfolio of feature film titles and validate Channel 5's position as a key player in the acquisitions market," said the channel's controller of acquisitions, Jeff Ford.

Other films to be shown will include Stuart Little II and Adam Sandler's Mr Deeds.

Channel 5 was going "from strength to strength", Columbia TriStar International Television's vice president of sales, Danny Goldman, said.

"We believe these movies... will be a valuable contribution to their movie line-up," he said.

Channel 5 has seen its viewing figures rise, peaking at 6.8% of the total viewing share in February 2002. That was up from 5.6% 12 months earlier.

It still trails its nearest rival, Channel 4, which usually gets about 10% of the viewing share.

Mr Lygo has tried to raise the Channel 5's profile and reputation by commissioning shows like Great Artists and a new early evening chat show produced by Chris Evans.

See also:

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