MEDIA RELEASE - STATEMENT ON CBS AGREEMENT TO PURCHASE NETWORK TEN - 28 AUGUST 2017

Today it was announced that wholly owned entities of CBS Corporation have entered into a binding transaction document to acquire the business and assets of Network Ten, subject to creditor and FIRB approvals.

It is notable that CBS is a successful media company with a current market capitalisation of approximately US$28 billion.  It also has a strong business model of providing news and current affairs.

The transaction is a positive result for the staff and shareholders of Ten and a vote of confidence in the network, regarded as “a prime broadcasting asset” by Leslie Moonves, Chairman and CEO of CBS Corporation.

This development represents Australia’s media diversity safeguards in action.

The acquisition is good news for the provision of news and current affairs and the public interest in maintaining a diversity of voices in the Australian media landscape. The CBS Chairman and CEO also expressed his confidence in growing Network Ten by applying the programming expertise of CBS.

Ten and CBS have a long-standing relationship and, while it is encouraging that CBS have stated publicly that they look forward to expanding on Network Ten’s “great legacy of Australian news, drama, reality and sports programming”, it highlights that caution must be exercised in reforming safeguards for Australian and children’s content.

Having asserted for months that it was essential to repeal the 2 out 3 cross-media control rule in order to save Network Ten, the question now is whether Malcolm Turnbull will pursue his Faustian pact with One Nation to inflict atrocities on the ABC and SBS in return for their vote – not to mention Nick Xenophon being embedded in negotiations to cut a deal on repeal of the 2 out of 3 rule.

Labor has made it clear that we support all other elements of the proposed legislation currently before the parliament including repeal of the 75% reach rule, the abolition of broadcasting licence fees and the introduction of new local content obligations.  The only Labor amendment on the table is to extract the proposed repeal of the 2 out of 3 cross-media control rule.

After nearly 4 years of nothing but talk about the urgency of media reform by both the former Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull and the current Minister Mitch Fifield, it’s time to split the Bill and get some action.