Following on from the announcement of changes to the media ownership laws over the weekend, the rumours of News Corp’s desire to buy the embattled Ten Network are again growing stronger.
News have made no secret that it wants to play in the TV game and the Murdochs have long petitioned governments to try and make it happen.
News already has an eight per cent stake in Ten and Lachlan Murdoch sits on Ten’s board. Foxtel – half owned by News – also has a 15 per cent share in Ten.
Over the weekend, the Turnbull government vowed to scrap the “two out of three” media ownership rule that prevents a media company owning more than two major media players – a TV station and a newspaper – in the one territory.
Sadly for News, it owns a stake in the radio station Nova which, thus far, has prevented it getting its hands on Ten.
The embattled broadcaster recently revealed plans to cut costs and ensure funding that would not send it into receivership. This has included reports that it will cull its news networks and take content from the News-owned Sky Network.
The Australian Financial Review is this morning reporting that if Fifield’s media reforms are passed it would pave the way for News and Ten’s largest shareholder, Bruce Gordon, to make a play for Ten. However, any planned purchase would need the approval of the ACCC first.
“Competition and media experts reckon the deal would face stiff scrutiny, but ultimately increased competition for audiences and advertising coupled with the declining market share and influence of traditional media may mean a deal would eventually get through,” The AFR’s Max Mason has reported.
The bigger question is whether anyone would be that interested in two old medias – a newspaper business and a struggling TV network – merging together? Arguably the biggest benefit of any potential would be around sports rights and being able to pay for them. Many analysts argue that live sport could be the only thing to save the Ten Network that has already made a huge success of the Big Bash and has publicly said it would be keen to snare the cricket away from arch-rival Nine.