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US broadcaster CBS to buy Australia's Ten Network


Sydney (AFP)

American broadcaster CBS has secured a deal to buy Australia's third-largest television network, Ten, the embattled station's administrators said Monday.

The Ten Network was placed in voluntary administration in June after two billionaire backers refused to continue guaranteeing a key loan of some Aus$200 million (US$159 million).

CBS -- one of Ten's key content providers -- will fund the purchase by refinancing existing secured debt arrangements in full, the administrators said in a statement.

The agreement came after CBS in July claimed debts of Aus$843 million from Ten in a submission to the network's administrators, Fairfax Media reported.

"Network Ten has played a significant role in Australia's media landscape over many decades, and the sale of the business to CBS will allow the iconic broadcaster to move into a new chapter on a strong and stable footing," Ten receiver and PPB Advisory Partner Christopher Hill said in a statement.

The deal includes Channel Ten, digital channel One, digital platform Tenplay, and digital channel Eleven -- of which CBS already owns a 33 percent stake.

CBS said it would also launch its digital on-demand service CBS All Access in the Australian market.

"We have been able to acquire (Network Ten) at a valuation that gives us confidence we will grow this asset by applying our programming expertise in a market with which we are already familiar," CBS chairman and chief executive Leslie Moonves said in a statement.

The announcement came just days after Ten's former billionaire backers -- Lachlan Murdoch, the son of media titan Rupert, and Bruce Gordon, who owns regional network WIN -- secured regulatory approval to bid for the network.

But any takeover by Murdoch's investment company Illyria and Gordon's Birketu, which would have given them each a 50 percent share, was dependent on the government changing media laws to allow ownership across multiple platforms.

Ten, one of Australia's three commercial channels and which broadcasts shows such as "I'm a Celebrity", has been on air since 1964.

The station, like many media groups, has been hammered by slumping advertising revenues and posted a net loss in September-February of Aus$232 million.

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