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Will Paramount’s New Owners Offload Struggling Network 10 In Oz?

Network 10

After several months of intense negotiations, the David Ellison-led Skydance Media has finally reached a deal to merge with Paramount Global – the owner of Network 10 and Paramount+ in Australia.

Paramount chair Shari Redstone will sell her family’s National Amusements which controls about 77 per cent of the voting stock in Paramount for A$3.56 billion.

The Ellison family and RedBird Capital Partners will invest more than A$11.86 billion in the business. That includes A$2.22 billion to help reduce Paramount’s debt.

Paramount is saddled with more than A$20.76 billion of debt and Ellison, who will be the chairman and CEO of the newly merged company, would be keen to take a closer look at its underperforming assets globally – including Network 10 in Australia which has been struggling for a while.

In Australia, speculation of Channel 10 being axed in two Australian states grew this month after Ten recently stopped airing live in Mildura, Victoria.

Network 10 does not own its regional stations and therefore relies on distribution from joint-venture operations, with Mildura Digital Television’s broadcasts ending due to rising costs.

Ten’s future in Tasmania and the Northern Territory has been called into question as broadcasters are making ‘tough decisions’ amid the difficult climate.

 

The AFR reported this month that the federal government approved $32.9 million in funding to keep Ten on the air for seven years in Western Australia.

Media analyst and Pearman director of strategy and research Steve Allen recently told news.com.au that Network 10 might face serious questions once the new leadership takes charge of the parent company in the US. “A new owner of Paramount Global is unlikely to see Ten as an asset worth retaining because the business is in serious turmoil. There’s no programming momentum and they haven’t found a really solid anchor for prime time, their revenue looks steady but they can’t seem to significantly reduce overheads, and now there’s upheaval in terms of their US ownership.”

Network Ten was publicly listed until 2017, which is when its three billionaire shareholders – Lachlan Murdoch, Bruce Gordon and James Packer – stopped guaranteeing its loans, sending the company into administration. Paramount’s CBS was the largest creditor to Ten and ended up taking control.

While Network 10 successfully defended itself against a defamation suit in the Bruce Lehrmann saga, its woes haven’t stopped as reality series The Masked Singer and major franchise The Bachelor have been axed further throwing its programming in a state of disarray.

How Ellison and his team manage the Australian operations of Network 10 will be keenly watched over the next few months. The latest deal is expected to close only in the first half of 2025.



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