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CBS agrees to buy Australia’s Ten Network as Murdoch misses out

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By Jessica Goodfellow | Media Reporter

August 28, 2017 | 4 min read

US broadcaster CBS has agreed to buy the struggling Ten Network, one of Australia's three commercial channels that was placed in voluntary administration in June after running into financial troubles.

CBS agrees to buy Australia’s Ten Network

CBS agrees to buy Australia’s Ten Network

The purchase is still subject to regulatory approval.

The US network giant beat Lachlan Murdoch, son of media mogul Rupert Murdoch, and Bruce Gordon, the largest shareholder of Ten Network, who announced a joint takeover bid in July.

Gordon, through his private company Birketu, currently owns about 15% of Ten's shares, while Murdoch’s investment vehicle Illyria owns 7.44%. The two businessmen proposed to jointly buy out Ten, taking a 50% share each.

Last week competition watchdog the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) announced that it would not oppose a proposed bid from the duo, though any acquisition would have required changes to media ownership laws.

The $28bn CBS Corporation, a long-term provider of content to Ten, owns CBS Television Network, cable networks, content production and distribution, television stations, internet-based businesses and consumer publishing.

The US network says it will supply its own content as well as produce Australian sport, drama, reality and news. The future of Australian soap opera Neighbours remains unclear.

The company said in a statement that the deal would also allow CBS to launch its streaming service CBS All Access in the Australian market – a twist of the knife for Murdoch, who owns the Foxtel pay network in Australia.

The chairman of CBS, Leslie Moonves, said: "We have been able to acquire it at a valuation that gives us confidence we will grow this asset by applying our programming expertise in a market with which we are already familiar."

Ten was placed in administration after creditors withdrew a debt guarantee. The network, whic pursued a youth strategy in the 2000s and enjoyed success with Big Brother, Australian Idol and Neighbours, has been hit by falling advertising revenues and competition from digital streaming services.

PPB advisory partner Christopher Hill said Network Ten had played a significant role in Australia's broadcasting landscape over the decades, and that the sale of the business to CBS "will allow the iconic broadcaster to move into a new chapter on a strong and stable footing".

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