One of the largest takeovers in Australian regional television is set to unfold with Macquarie Media Group (MMG) making a bid to take over the media assets of Southern Cross Broadcasting (SCB).

The Southern Cross Broadcasting empire, which began with two regional television stations in Victoria in the 1980s, has expanded to a network of television stations stretching from Hobart to Cairns, and across to Darwin – with its Southern Cross Ten and Southern Cross Television brands. It also controls Seven Central which serves outback centres such as Alice Springs and Mt Isa and via satellite to remote areas in the eastern and central timezones, and has half-shares in both Tasmanian Digital Television and Darwin Digital Television. SCB also recently sold its Adelaide television station NWS9 to rival regional broadcaster WIN.

In the deal announced today, MMG has made an offer to the value of $1.35 billion for the media assets of SCB – primarily for the purposes of taking over the regional television outlets to supplement its existing network of 87 regional radio stations.

MMG plans to offload the radio stations of SCB to Fairfax Media (publisher of newspapers The Age and Sydney Morning Herald) for a sum of around $480 million which will give Fairfax the talk radio network headed by 2UE and 3AW, and music stations Magic 1278 Melbourne, 4BH Brisbane and 96FM in Perth. Fairfax is also to acquire the production company Southern Star and music distribution business Satellite Music Australia.

SCB shareholders are to vote on the offer in October, though the bid already has the support of the board of SCB.

Source: The Australian

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