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MediaWorks phoenix ready to rise, minus The Simpsons

Thursday 7th November 2013

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Struggling broadcaster MediaWorks will take on a new life tomorrow after a recapitalisation exercise that will reduce the company's debt from more than $700 million to around $100 million while radically altering its television content arrangements.

The receivers for MediaWorks Group, Michael Stiassny and Brendon Gibson of Korda Mentha, confirmed the settlement of the sale and purchase agreement, with newly constituted MediaWorks Holdings (MWH), will occur tomorrow.

The MediaWorks receivership was announced in June, but was immediately backed with a rescue plan.

The settlement will see the removal of all Fox network programming from TV3 and TV4 including prime time cartoon show The Simpsons, with the biggest impact on TV4, which screens seven hours of Fox material daily, but the new entity will no longer have a so-called "output deal" in which it buys all the programming offered by any international broadcaster.

Instead, MWH will be picking and choosing between programmes offered by CBS, NBC Universal, Sony Television and, if it can agree on terms, a selection of Fox material.

"Full output agreements are outdated and don't make commercial sense in the New Zealand market," said MediaWorks TV chief executive Paul Maher in a statement. "We want the advantage of selecting the international shows that work for us.

"The new arrangements free up budget to increase MediaWorks' investment in local programming, which makes up 55 percent of TV3's prime time schedule," Maher said.

Four of TV3's top 10 programmes are made in New Zealand: The Block, X Factor, 7 Days, and Jono and Ben at Ten, with detective drama Bones the only Fox programme in that list, ranked sixth.

Cop drama NCIS, a CBS show, ranks seventh, while three others are British productions: Grand Designs, Kevin's Grand Designs, and The Graham Norton Show, the latter already bought on the spot market along the US version of X Factor and the Grand Designs shows.

BusinessDesk.co.nz

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