CBS acquires Australia’s Network Ten

CBS chief executive, Les Moonves

CBS chief executive, Les Moonves

US broadcaster CBS is to acquire Australia’s Network Ten after agreeing to convert large debts Ten owed into an equity stake.

The deal was announced yesterday to a positive response among many Australian producers, with Screen Producers Australia CEO, Matthew Deaner, commenting that CBS’s move “demonstrates that despite significant pressures, our market remains robust and competitive”.

“It is a meaningful display of confidence in the Australian industry,” he said “Having a strong third commercial free to air network is important for competition, important for Australian audiences that benefit from Australian and children’s content obligations and important for Australian production companies who supply the market.”

Buying Ten means CBS gains a top three Australian commercial network, the 67% of digital terrestrial channel Eleven that it didn’t already own, DTT network One and digital platform Tenplay.

It also means CBS All Access will join the likes of Netflix, Amazon and Stan in the Australian SVOD market. CBS last week revealed it was taking its on-demand service international beginning with Canada, two years after its launch in the US.

Deaner welcomed its entrance. “The news that CBS intends to bring with it a new streaming service shows that these content obligations need to be evolved to reflect new market realities,” he said.

Stan will retain rights to Showtime programming in Australia, according to Australian news blog TV Tonight.

CBS Studios International president and CEO Armando Nuñez said: “Network Ten and CBS have enjoyed a close working relationship for nearly two decades, and now CBS will continue to provide Network Ten with access to the very best in US content.

“We also look forward to working with the outstanding team at Network Ten to enhance and expand on its great legacy of Australian news, drama, reality and sports programming.

“This acquisition not only presents CBS with considerable broadcasting opportunities in Australia, but also allows for further multi-platform distribution and growth.”

Ten has been looking for a buyer since it fell into administration under the pressure of various debts. It owned a large sum to CBS, which was then installed as a favorite to launch a takeover.

“Network Ten is a prime broadcasting asset with over half a century of experience and brand equity in Australia,” said Leslie Moonves, chairman and CEO of CBS.

“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.”

The deal is subject to regulatory approvals and must follow the Australian administration process.

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