WIN Canberra news readers Amy Duggan and Kerryn Johnston.A last minute licensing deal between regional television broadcaster WIN Corp and Channel Nine is not expected to change viewing for the Canberra audience.
She said the local news was a WIN product, and not involved in discussions with Channel Nine related to supply of programs.
WIN Corp has narrowly avoided its services “going to black” on the stroke of midnight by extending its licensing deal with Nine Entertainment for six months and hinted at a bigger tie-up between the companies.
WIN, which is owned by Bermuda-based billionaire Bruce Gordon, was facing the possibility of losing its feed from Nine. The city broadcaster wanted a bigger share of its affiliate’s advertising revenue and the existing contract was set to end at Midnight tonight.
Failure to strike a deal would have left regional viewers with the limited range of programming that WIN itself controls. Rural and regional fans of the cricket would have had to switch over to SBS for the upcoming Tests between Australia and the West Indies as well as India.
But after tense talks at the highest levels of both companies on Wednesday, the parties agreed to extend their arrangements for six months until June 2016 with Nine getting additional payments over the period.
The bigger story is the increased cooperation between the two companies that could lead to a merger, which would create a broadcasting giant worth up to $1.8 billion.
Sources close to both parties revealed to Fairfax Media that merger talks were on the table throughout these discussions.
“NEC and WIN have also agreed to work together on a range of opportunities relating to their content and to the mutual growth of their respective businesses,” Nine said in a statement.
“Broadcast television is evolving, but the role of the affiliate and its relationship with the local community remains important,” Nine chief executive Hugh Marks added.
WIN would be expected to keep a stake in a combined entity, but discussions remain at an early stage with no firm discussions around price or structure. WIN’s value has been speculated at between $150 million and $300 million. Nine’s market capitalisation is $1.6 billion.
Mr Gordon already owns a 14.95 per cent of both Nine and Network Ten.
But both parties are limited by the federal government’s “reach rule”, which prevents any one party from owning metropolitan and regional broadcasters. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is expected to push for a scrapping of the law next year.
June 2016 is shaping up as a vital year for regional and rural TV viewers.
Nine has held previously exploratory talks to supply its broadcast feed to rival rural broadcaster Southern Cross, which currently uses Network Ten’s less popular content in a deal that expires in June 2016.
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