The competition watchdog has announced that it will not oppose a proposed bid for the Ten Network by current shareholders Bruce Gordon and Lachlan Murdoch.
Mr Gordon, through his private company Birketu, and Lachlan Murdoch, through his investment vehicle Illyria, have proposed to jointly takeover Ten, with a 50 per cent share each.
Birketu currently owns about 15 per cent of Ten’s shares, while Illyria owns 7.44 per cent.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) said it does not believe allowing the two men to completely take control of the network would substantially lessen competition in any particular media market.
In part, that is because Mr Gordon’s WIN TV and Ten are broadcast within different geographic areas.
However, the ACCC also addressed the issue of Lachlan Murdoch’s involvement, given his position as co-chairman of News Corporation and executive chairman of 21st Century Fox, as well as a range of other media interests.
“We considered whether the acquisition would significantly reduce competition, by causing a reduction in the quality and range of news content, or increasing the negotiation power of the combined Ten/Foxtel/News Corporation,” the ACCC’s chairman Rod Sims said in a statement.
“On the issue of the effect on competition in the supply of news services, the ACCC took into consideration competition from news providers on other media platforms and in particular, the other free-to-air networks, given Seven and Nine have a stronger position in the market than Ten.
“The ACCC also considered the effect on competition in the acquisition of sports rights and other types of content.
“The parties will continue to face competition from the remaining free-to-air networks as well as streaming services for the acquisition of content.”
While the proposed takeover has the ACCC’s green light, it will still need a change in media ownership laws, which currently prevent the transaction taking place.
The Federal Government’s proposed changes would allow the deal to proceed, but are currently stalled in the Senate.