News National Foxtel gets green light to link with Ten
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Foxtel gets green light to link with Ten

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Ten will get the shot in the arm it wanted after the competition watchdog gave the thumbs up to Foxtel taking a 15 per cent stake in the TV network.

Ten says it will use the $77 million to be forked out by the pay TV giant to slash its debt.

An associated deal in which Ten will take a major stake in Foxtel’s advertising agency could also help the third-ranked free-to-air network in the fight to attract corporate dollars.

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The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission ruled the Ten and Foxtel deal would not drastically reduce competition for advertising or sports rights.

“While the acquisitions will lead to a greater alignment of Foxtel’s and Ten’s interests, and will increase the degree of influence Foxtel has over Ten, the ACCC considers that the proposed acquisitions, on their own, are unlikely to result in a substantial lessening of competition,” ACCC chairman Rod Sims said.

The deal will further bolster Ten’s balance sheet after it raised $77 million in new capital from shareholders in June, and previous funding injections from its list of heavyweight shareholders including Gina Rinehart, James Packer and Lachlan Murdoch.

The broadcaster posted a loss $264 million in the first half of its 2014/15 year, and has suffered years of declining ratings and advertising revenue.

Its ratings performance appears to have turned a corner this year, with its prime time audience up thanks to successes like The Bachelor and The Bachelorette, as well as MasterChef.

“Ten will receive the capital it needs to continue its turnaround,” Ten non-executive chairman David Gordon said.

The network said approval of its purchase of a 24.99 per cent stake in Foxtel advertising agency Multi-Channel Network would deliver new efficiencies for its advertisers, and broader integration opportunities.

The MCN deal could help Ten respond to falling advertising revenues, while Foxtel could gain useful free-to-air exposure on Ten, which increased its audience share in the 25-54 age group this year.

The ACCC said the Ten and Foxtel would likely offer bundled advertising across their platforms, but that would not lead to a substantial lessening of competition.

The Australian Communications and Media Authority also approved the deal despite concerns from competitors that it breached media ownership rules that prohibit control by one entity of a newspaper, radio station and TV channel in the same area.

News Corp co-chairman Lachlan Murdoch is also a major Ten shareholder and owner of the Nova Entertainment radio group.

But ACMA said while Mr Murdoch was in a position to exert influence on Ten, that level of influence fell short of control.

The Foxtel and Ten deal must now be approved by the Foreign Investment Review Board.

-AAP

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