Australia: Watchdog consults on Ten bid

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) is seeking views on the potential joint bid for Ten Network by bodies controlled by Lachlan Murdoch and Bruce Gordon, in particular, how it might affect competition in Australian media and advertising, as well as any effects on what TV programming.

In an issues letter released on July 7th, the ACCC outlined potential issues including how ownership of Ten might affect Australian sports programming via any limitations on negotiating positions or commercial independence of sports bodies, audience reach or free-to-air broadcasting.

Murdoch has broad media interests as executive chairman of 21st Century Fox, co-chairman of News Corporation, and, through his investment firm Illyria, owner of the Nova Entertainment radio group where he is also executive chairman.

News Corp Australia owns Fox Sports Australia as well as 50 per cent of Australia’s largest pay-TV provider Foxtel, which also offers the Presto content-on-demand service, a joint venture with Seven West Media.

In October 2015, the ACCC endorsed Foxtel’s purchase of a 15 per cent stake in Ten. 21st Century Fox meanwhile, holds a 50 per cent stake in Endemol Shine, which produces and distributes Ten’s highest-rating programmes such as Survivor and Masterchef.

Murdoch and Gordon formed a joint venture after Ten’s directors put the struggling broadcaster into administration on June 14 following pair’s decision – along with fellow Ten shareholder James Packer – not to support a new A$250 million loan the network needs to stay afloat.

Through their respective investment vehicles Illyria and Birketu, Murdoch and Gordon are seeking 50:50 ownership of Ten, with equal economic, voting and boardroom control and neither able to individually control the business.

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