CBS Corporation, owner of the CBS television network in the US, has announced its agreement to buy the business and assets of Ten Network Holdings.
The deal, which includes CBS taking over Ten, Tenplay and supplementary channels One and Eleven, follows a competitive sales process that was also reported to include a rival bid by Lachlan Murdoch and WIN owner Bruce Gordon — both significant shareholders in Ten prior to the network going into receivership.
The CBS transaction is still subject to approval by the Foreign Investment Review Board and of creditors, but CBS has committed to providing immediate financial support to maintain continuity of operations ahead of the upcoming meeting of creditors.
Ten CEO Paul Anderson said in a statement, “CBS and Ten have had a strong relationship for a number of years; we are very excited about further developing that relationship with CBS as an owner and strength that they will provide to the Company at this critical time”.
CBS has been a significant content supplier to Ten and owns a third share of the network’s multi-channel Eleven. It was earlier reported that Ten owed CBS as much as $843 million in programming rights fees.
Armando Nuñez, President and CEO of CBS Studios International, commented, “CBS recognises the significance of Ten in the Australian broadcasting community. We are committed to the efficient, reliable and successful turnaround, operation and development of Ten to support continued growth in Australian media”.
CBS will also launch its subscription video on demand service CBS All Access in Australia.
The Ten-CBS deal promises financial and management stability for the network from one of the world’s strongest media brands and represents a significant new entrant into the Australian media landscape. It will come as a blow to Murdoch, as executive co-chairman of News Corporation he would have seen some synergies in linking properties such as Sky News, Fox Sports and Foxtel to the Ten brand, and Gordon, whose WIN is the Ten affiliate partner through much of regional Australia.