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Club C21

CBS seals the deal for Ten

CBS’s deal for Ten has been completed

Australia’s Network Ten is now owned by CBS Corporation after the company’s administrator transferred the shares in the third-placed commercial free-to-air broadcaster to the US studio.

Ushering in a new era for the loss-making network after five months of uncertainty, CBS chairman/CEO Leslie Moonves said: “The closing of this acquisition marks the beginning of an exciting opportunity to build and expand on our close working relationship and the great legacy of Network Ten in Australia, and to paving the way for further multiplatform distribution opportunities for CBS content.

“Our ownership helps ensure that Network Ten’s business will grow long-term, while also benefiting the Australian media sector as a whole. We look forward to welcoming Ten and its employees to the CBS family.”

CBS, which has jointly owned digital channel Eleven with Ten since its inception, has indicated that Ten’s management team led by CEO Paul Anderson will remain in place.

Anderson said: “We are delighted that the purchase of Ten by CBS Corporation, one of the largest and most successful media organisations in the world, has been finalised.

“CBS and Ten have had a strong relationship for many years. We look forward to expanding and strengthening that relationship, and working closely with CBS to build Ten’s presence in the Australian media industry.”

Last Friday, the New South Wales Supreme Court approved the application by administrator KordaMentha to transfer the shares in Ten Network Holdings to the US company.

KordaMentha assured the court it would not implement the transfer before 17.00 local time on Tuesday to allow three small dissident shareholders time to decide if they wanted to appeal the decision.

There was no appeal so KordaMentha completed the transaction at 15.00 today, handing operational control to CBS immediately.

KordaMentha partner Mark Korda thanked Ten’s viewers, advertisers, content partners and suppliers for their support during the five months of administration.

He added: “We are very proud to be handing Ten over to CBS. Adding CBS’s global industry expertise to Ten’s already very talented executive team is a hugely exciting opportunity for Ten.”

CBS has not indicated when its streaming service CBS All Access will launch in Oz or how it may be integrated with Ten’s catch-up platform Tenplay. Some observers believe the introduction of the SVoD service is not a priority for the studio.

As C21 has reported, Ten’s shareholders including billionaires Bruce Gordon and Lachlan Murdoch, who unsuccessfully mounted a counter bid, got nothing from the takeover.

But Ten’s accumulated losses of more than A$1.6bn (US$1.2bn) have been wiped out and it will be debt-free and much better resourced to challenge the Seven and Nine networks.

However, there is no sign of any imminent spending spree, as Anderson told Screen Producers Australia’s annual conference in Melbourne yesterday: “We’re not sitting here saying ‘Well, these guys have got massively deep pockets, so we can just go out and splash money around.’

“That’s just not how things work in real life and it’s just not in Ten’s DNA either. At the end of the day Ten has to stand on its own two feet and it has to make a profit and a return for CBS, first and foremost.”

CBS picked up the broadcaster relatively cheaply, setting aside the A$348m owing from its output deal with Ten, which the studio agreed to forgo.

The studio put up an A$139m credit line and A$30m in working capital when it lodged its bid and it agreed to pay unsecured creditors A$40.5m.

In addition, CBS increased its pay-out to 21st Century Fox from A$3.4m to A$12m, which did not stop Fox from terminating its output deal.

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