Media tycoon exploring putting broadcaster bought for £103.5m in 2010 on the market, looking for more than £700m.
Richard Desmond, the owner of Channel 5, is exploring a sale of the television business.
Mr Desmond, whose Northern & Shell also owns the Express (NYSE: EXPR - news) and Star newspapers, can expect to sell the business for many times the £103.5m he paid for it three and a half years ago, after returning Channel 5 to profit and amid optimistic forecasts for broadcasters.
A sale would be likely to raise more than £700m according to reports, although it is understood that Mr Desmond could look for up to £1bn. Northern & Shell (LSE: RDSB.L - news) has appointed Barclays (LSE: BARC.L - news) to work on the sale.
The process is in a very early stage, however.
Prospects for free-to-air broadcasters, which have been gloomy during the financial downturn, are looking much improved.
The advertising market has bounced back strongly, while the television stations are confident that they will be able to scrap "retransmission fees" - the charges they pay to BSkyB and Virgin Media to appear on their satellite and cable platforms.
The revival in fortunes explains the huge profit Mr Desmond can expect to make from a sale. In comparison, ITV (LSE: ITV.L - news) 's stock market value has quadrupled in the last three and a half years.
A spokesman for Northern & Shell said: "As a media group with a broad portfolio of assets, we are often the subject of speculation, but it remains our policy not to comment on these matters."