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Richard Desmond: 'I am not a porn baron'

Media mogul Richard Desmond has rejected his reputation as a porn baron and revealed a surprising admiration for Rupert Murdoch in an interview due to be broadcast this week.

In a programme that will be shown on CNBC tomorrow, the Express Newspapers owner describes himself as "a little schizo, sometimes aggressive, sometimes nice".

Despite publishing magazines including Asian Babes and Horny Housewives, and owning the Television X channel, Desmond insists his porn reputation is undeserved. "Porn to me is illegal," he says.

The 'CNBC meets...' programme also includes a contribution from Simon Cowell, who describes Desmond as "one of the hardest working guys I have ever met".

You can see the interview in full on CNBC at 10pm tomorrow. Here are some extracts:

On being the boss

“I’d say I was wonderful but you’d have to ask the others.”

On pushing his staff

“Sometimes I feel yeah, I feel a bit horrible sometimes. But then I think, well, you know that if I don’t do that. You know, I feel you’ve got to be on it and you’ve got to keep asking the questions and if you don’t get the answers you’ve got to go back and back and back.

On launching OK! magazine

“Well, it was born through frustration, I think. I looked at Hello and I couldn’t believe how dull and out of touch it was with the British public and so I thought; ‘Right we’ll have a go with that and we’ll take them on.’ And that was really the biggest risk I’ve ever taken, launching OK in the UK.”

On his critics along the way

“Conrad Black eleven years ago really tried to vilify me. Well he ended up in prison, for I think it was for fraud and you know, at the end of the day. I have lunch with Rothermere; I have lunch of breakfast with or dinners with Rupert Murdoch. You know, I meet with the Prime Ministers, I meet with you know, Heads of State.”

On Rupert Murdoch being both an inspiration and rival

“I like Rupert, you know. I like Rupert because he’s bold and has a go and he leads from the front and I like him. I mean, you, know, without him, Sky wouldn’t be where it is today, which is a good thing, I should add. When he was making three hundred million pounds a year on analogue Sky, he bet the ranch again, and go it all to digital, you know and I think that everyone will agree that digital HD, 3D is fantastic thing. Having said that, I wouldn’t say he’s the greatest manager I’ve come across. … 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.”

On Richard’s adult publications and his porn reputation

“Well, I didn’t hate it. It was, it was so inaccurate because to me, I don’t know how many, I’ll probably be saying this til my dying day but you know, porn to me is illegal and we had magazines which were sold through WH Smith, John Menzies who were wholesalers in this country. Public companies, wholesalers on the same and they were going on the same lorries that the papers go on and everything else goes on. They were sold in retail outlets etc., etc., etc., we had mainstream advertising in them. From, you know, I don’t know Rothman’s cigarettes to Jaguar cars. Now, you know, at the end of the day, these girls love modelling, they think it’s great and they think it’s great to go into Penthouse or into whatever magazine.”

On caring what people say about him

“Obviously you don’t want nasty things said about you. You know, a third of people are going to love you, a third of people are going to hate you and a third of people don’t care.”

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