21 October 2010

How a TV station represents political insurance


Stephen Mayne

" Understanding James Packer's extraordinary $300 million plunge back into free-to-air television through his raid on Network Ten this week requires some insights into the workings of casino regulation in Australia.

The second largest Ten shareholder, Bermudan-based billionaire Bruce Gordon, can't go above 15 per cent because he owns the competing Channel Nine stations in Adelaide and Perth."

"The only other potential bidder would be Rupert Murdoch's News Corp or the Foxtel partners, but as a 25 per cent shareholder in Foxtel James Packer could presumably stymie such a move.

Murdoch has his hands full with a bid to buy all of BSkyB in a takeover that values the whole operation at $23 billion.

Having been kicked around in recent years by the likes of Seven's Today Tonight and the Murdoch tabloids, James Packer might also enjoy the prospect of having some renewed media fire power of his own.

However, given his father and grandfather spent almost 50 years building Channel Nine, you have to wonder what they would be thinking now that James has ditched the family's most famous business and then bought into a competitor.

Strange days indeed."

Stephen Mayne is a shareholder activist, columnist, business journalist, local councillor and publisher of The Mayne Report.

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