Packer Confirms New Media Sell-Off

Nick Tabakoff, The Australian, May 29, 2007

JAMES Packer’s PBL empire has confirmed it is in discussions to once more halve its stake in PBL Media, in a move that would see it relinquish management control of its flagship assets and move the family fortune away from "old media" assets.

The discussions, exclusively revealed in The Australian last Wednesday, were about PBL selling down a further 25 per cent interest in PBL Media to "funds advised by CVC Asia Pacific and CVC Capital Partners", its joint venture partner, the company said yesterday.

If the selldown proceeds, it will release about $500 million into the coffers of PBL to invest in "new media" assets, in areas like pay television and the internet.

The deal could also free up a CVC-led PBL Media to become a major player in Australian media consolidation, after some reputed disagreements with PBL on acquisition targets since the private equity firm first took joint control of the vehicle in October.

Under the selldown, PBL Media CEO Ian Law would be charged with executing CVC’s media plans in Australia.

The deal would see the PBL Media-controlled Nine, Ninemsn and ACP Magazines – the latter of which includes a number of iconic Packer family brands such as Australian Women’s Weekly and Woman’s Day – removed from PBL’s grasp.

It is understood PBL wants to finalise its PBL Media selldown ahead of the split of PBL into two companies: Crown, which will hold PBL’s gaming assets; and Consolidated Media Holdings, which will hold the PBL Media stake, as well as a number of "new media" plays it wants to remain undiluted, including its 25 per cent stake in Foxtel and holdings in Fox Sports and Seek.

It is proposed that the split will be executed, subject to shareholder approval, in August. Documentation detailing the terms of the split is still to be finalised.

But Mr Colman did not believe it necessarily represented the end of PBL’s media ambitions, saying the funds PBL and Consolidated Media raise from the selldown could be put towards a possible Foxtel takeover of Austar.

"It looks like it could be an Austar refinancing, if Foxtel decides to go for Austar without James putting extra money into Consolidated Media."

Talks between Foxtel and Austar about an acquisition recently stalled over price, but Foxtel is believed to maintain a long-term interest in a takeover.

Sources close to Park St have told The Australian that PBL Media’s capital structure of 70 per cent debt and 30 per cent equity could see it remain as an attractive vehicle for PBL to make media purchases through.

Given Consolidated Media’s likely 25 per cent stake in PBL Media, it would only have to contribute $75 million in equity towards every $1 billion purchase PBL Media would make.

Pay TV Audiences

We hear about the growth of Pay TV but occassionally its nice to have some figures to put things in perspective. While Pay is growing it still has a long way to go to make a differences to many advertisers, especially in the Hunter. The biggest audience on NBN was around half that of the biggest audience on Pay Nationally.

What Pay TV subscribers watched last week

1 NRL SEA EAGLES V STORM Fox Sports 3 317,000

2 NRL TITANS V RABBITOHS Fox Sports 3 301,000

3 NRL SEA EAGLES V BRONCOS Fox Sports3 258,000

4 THE KING TV1 220,000


6 AFL SYDNEY V PORT ADELAIDE Fox Sports 1 161,000

7 AFL WEST COAST V MELBOURNE Fox Sports 1 160,000


9 NRL WARRIORS V WESTS TIGERS Fox Sports 3 149,000

10 NRL SHARKS V ROOSTERS Fox Sports 3 144,000

(OzTAM whole nation)

Nine Finally Wins a Week

Channel Nine has won its first ratings week of the year, thanks to rugby league. To put it another way, Channel Seven has lost its first ratings week of the year, thanks to rugby union.

As of last Wednesday morming, Seven was ahead of Nine in prime time audience share, but the huge numbers watching the State of Origin match in Sydney and Brisbane pushed Nine to the front by Thursday morning. Seven was able to claw back viewers on Thursday and Friday nights, so that on Saturday morning the stations were neck and neck, each averaging 28.6 per cent for the week.

Everything depended on how viewers in Sydney and Brisbane responded to Seven’s coverage of the rugby union match between Australia and Wales on Saturday night.

Well, 252,000 watched it in Sydney and 144,000 watched it in Brisbane (compared with 856,000 and 734,000 who watched the league on Wednesday). Union may be the game they play in heaven, but it’s not the game they watch in Australia.

The prime time audience shares for the week ended up thus: Nine 28.3 per cent, Seven 28.2, Ten 21.2, ABC 16.4, and SBS 5.9. Seven will be scrambling to shore up its end of week programming before the next State of Origin — and it may decide to leave future rugby union to Pay TV.

What Australian watched, week ending May 26

2 SEVEN NEWS – SUN Seven 1,673,000
3 60 MINUTES Nine 1,668,000
4 WHERE ARE THEY NOW Seven 1,531,000
5 SEVEN NEWS Seven 1,503,000
7 TODAY TONIGHT Seven 1,438,000
9 GREY’S ANATOMY Seven 1,417,000
10 IT TAKES TWO Seven 1,414,000
11 NCIS Ten 1,403,000
12 NINE NEWS SUNDAY Nine 1,401,000
13 RPA WHERE ARE THEY NOW? Nine 1,374,000
14 MY NAME IS EARL Seven 1,306,000

Source: SMH

Origin Big for NBN

NBN’s State of Origin coverage was the big winner last week, giving the station some of their biggest audience share for the year.

1  State of Origin Game 1 – Match  NBN  162000
2 State of Origin Game 1 – Post Match NBN 134000
3 State of Origin Game 1 – Pre Match NBN 125000

4 NBN Evening News Sunday NBN 104000

5 A Current Affair NBN 99000
6 NBN Evening News Monday to Friday NBN 95000

7 1 VS 100 NBN 90000

8 Friday Night Football Bulldogs v Broncos NBN 88000

9 20 to 1 Rpt NBN 87000

10 My Name is Earl PRIME 84000

Sunrise to Begin Local News

The Seven Network’s Sunrise breakfast program will launch local news bulletins within the program from next Monday 28th May 2007.

Local news bulletins specific to their region will follow national news at 6am, 7am and 8am.

This adds to the local weather and traffic updates already aired during the program.


“Sunrise viewers told us they want to know what’s happening in their own backyards,” Sunrise Executive Producer Adam Boland said.

    “Sunrise has newsrooms in every single major city. These local updates will ensure Sunrise has the most comprehensive and most relevant news service in Australia between 6am and 9am.”

There is no word yet as to what Seven’s regional Queensland station, Prime, GWN or Southern Cross plan to do in these timeslots. It follows speculation that Nine will launch local news bulletins within the Today Show.

Source: Seven Network Press Release & MediaSpy

PBL Changes to NBN

PBL executives were rumoured to be in Newcastle today working on the imminent changes at NBN.

New graphics are apparently to be into the station, to be used on air from July 2nd.

NBN is to relaunch as Nine on July 2nd with Today the first program in the new brand. All other programming will run in sync with TCN. A tipster says a farewell to NBN program may be screened the previous night.

The tipster claims the infrastructure will remain in place, with HD facilities to be used for shows, possibly including Hi-5.


ABC TV No.1 In Newcastle

In an amazing result, ABC have recorded the two highest rating programs on Newcastle TV for the last week.  The Chasers War on Everything and Spicks and Specks have outrated everything the commercial stations could offer for the first time in memory. These two programs have been rating extremely well nationally but not 1 & 2 for the week.

It goes to show that there is a place for innovative and entertaining material on Aussie TV. Chaser and Spicks & Specks are relatively low budget programs relying on the abilities of some very talented people to deliver highly entertaining products. What a turn-around to see comedy outrating forensic investigators, reality TV and even rugby league. We obviously needed a laugh!!

1  The Chasers War on Everything  ABC  107

2 Spicks & Specks ABC 98

3 NBN Evening News Sunday NBN 87

4 20 to 1 NBN 86

5 A Current Affair NBN 83

6 NBN Evening News Monday to Friday NBN 83

7 NBN Evening News Monday to Friday NBN 83

8 RPA Where Are They Now? NBN 79

9 Friday Night Football Dragons v Titans NBN 78

10 CSI: Miami NBN 75

National TV Rating w/ending 19 May

What Australia watched, week ending May 19

1 60 MINUTES Nine 1,552,000

2 IT TAKES TWO Seven 1,546,000

3 SEVEN NEWS Seven 1,535,000

5 SEVEN NEWS – SUN Seven 1,469,000

6 TODAY TONIGHT Seven 1,441,000


8 RPA WHERE ARE THEY NOW? Nine 1,392,000

9 WHERE ARE THEY NOW Seven 1,387,000

10 1 VS 100 Nine 1,386,000

11 NCIS Ten 1,361,000

12 SEVEN NEWS – SAT Seven 1,356,000

13 HOUSE Ten 1,355,000

14 NINE NEWS SUNDAY Nine 1,349,000

15 ALL SAINTS Seven 1,325,000

Changes Coming for NBN?

Several sources at NBN have confirmed to The Spy Report that PBL bosses will be in Newcastle next week to commence making changes to their new purchase, NBN Television.

Sports reporter Jim Callinan told KOFM’s David And Tanya yesterday that PBL was in town last week on a meet and greet with the staff, but he conveniently left the building to do some reporting. It is unclear whether or not he was joking.

Changes expected at NBN include the dumping of Home Shopping through the day, the addition of National Nine Morning and Afternoon News, plus a rebranding of the station to Channel Nine.

In other news it is being suggested that "Dottie" the former balls logo on Nine and NBN will be returning very soon. Nine had a major rebranding last year, removing their recognisable Dottie logo after 30 years.

McGuire to Step Down as CEO at Nine

Eddie McGuire will step down as the CEO of Channel Nine, the network has announced.

The Age has the following statement from the network yesterday, which reads:

    “Eddie McGuire, AM, the Chief Executive Officer of the Nine Network Australia today announced that he would move from his Chief Executive role at the Network to an increased presence on air and the provision of creative and programming services.”

Mr McGuire said the change in role would take effect from June 30, 2007.