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CBS/Ten Takeover A Shoe-In – But Handy Dollars For Murdoch

The Murdoch family may have lost out to the USA’s CBS in the bidding for the bankrupt Channel 10, but they may still score some handy dollars in coming negotiations with the new ownership, broadcasting industry observers say.

Despite bringing its own very successful products to Ten’s repertoire, CBS is expected to negotiate with Murdoch’s Fox group to keep hits like The Simpsons, they say. One Australian program that certainly won’t be going will be Ten’s hugely successful Australian Masterchef – indeed CBS might use parts of its formula to improve its own version.

The new scenario may also bring major changes in the Australian TV market, where Seven and Nine have long ruled the roost. As an ABC commentary by business reporter Stephen Letts yesterday noted: “CBS is the most watched network in the US. It has a market capitalisation in excess of $35 billion, deep pockets and plenty of content ready to roll …”

The Fairfax press, meanwhile, was yesterday suggesting that CBS’s takeover was far from assured, noting that, despite getting the nod from the receivers, it must now convince creditors, courts and the Foreign Investment Review Board that its bid is the best option for the company.

True enough, but eventual approval seems a shoe-in. As the receivers could tell you, there is no other bidder – Lachlan Murdoch and Bruce Gordon’s attempt was brave but foundered due to the Turnbull Government’s inability to pass a new media law package. And that is unlikely to change before CBS beats its barriers and moves in.

The arrival of CBS will have other repercussions. The Yanks plan to launch an Australian version of its CBS All Access subscription video-on-demand service which could take further shine from Foxtel, a joint venture between the Murdochs’ Fox service and Telstra, as well as Stan and Netflix.

Stay tuned …

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