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MediaWorks to buy more local TV shows as CBS rights expire

Friday 1st June 2012

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MediaWorks NZ, the private-equity owned broadcaster, plans to spend more on local television programmes as it winds down its deal with CBS Broadcasting and stops taking new shows from the most-watched network in the US.

The Auckland-based media company, whose stable includes TV channels TV3 and Four, and radio stations including the Rock, MoreFM, won't renew its output deal with CBS for new shows when it expires at the end of the year. Instead, it will use cash to buy local programmes as its existing CBS line-up, such as CSI and America's Next Top Model, come to their use- by date.

"TV3 over the last five to 10 years has put more emphasis on local content," and some of the broadcaster's most popular shows, such as Outrageous Fortune, have been New Zealand made, spokeswoman Rachel Lorimer told BusinessDesk.

The shift will be a gradual one as TV3's existing stable of CBS shows are taken off air, but it won't save the broadcaster any money, as locally produced programmes are expensive, she said.

In the 2010 financial year MediaWorks spent $82.2 million on programming and production with programme rights commitments totalling $264.1 million as at Aug. 31 that year, according to the latest financial statements lodged with the Companies Office.

Some $63 million of those programme commitments were within one year, $184.6 million between one and five years, and the remaining $16.5 million committed beyond five years.

MediaWorks had $9.2 million in US dollar-denominated foreign payables in the 2010 year, using a hedge policy of between 75 percent and 100 percent of expected cash flows.

Lorimer said the broadcaster will probably keep its current mix of in-house productions and externally produced shows.

"There's no particular plan to beef up what we do in-house," she said. "Independent producers are incredibly important to us."

Over the past three years, New Zealand On Air provided almost $54 million in funding for shows broadcast on TV3 or Four. Of that, in-house TV3 productions attracted just $5.7 million. Over the same period, state-owned Television New Zealand produced programmes attracted $16.4 million in NZ On Air funding.

That funding doesn't include brand-funded shows such as TV3's upcoming series, The Block NZ, which is being produced by Eyeworks.

BusinessDesk.co.nz

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