Media mogul Rupert Murdoch’s company 20th Century Fox has joined the battle to halt the takeover of Australia’s Channel 10 by CBS.
Channel 10, a free-to-air network, has been in the hands of administrators since 2015, after brave expansion plans led to loses of millions of dollars. Lachlan Murdoch, son of Rupert and Bruce Gordon were the channels major stakeholders and as so, were expected to step in to rescue the channel by refinancing it – then something unexpected happened.
CBS, who are owed $348 million by Channel 10 for program rights, made a bid to buy the network. This set the stage for a legal battle between two of the biggest forces in the global media world.
Both CBS and representatives of Murdoch and Gordon have submitted bids for Channel 10 that have resulted in legal wrangling’s about who should be awarded control of the network.
The details are messy and involve the Murdoch/Gordon camp accusing the administrators “of poisoning the employees of Ten against the Birketu/ Illyria bid” for which the camp are responsible.
Those who work for 10 are creditors and are owed money from the Channel. Money that they may have to wait years to see if the Murdoch/Gordon bid is accepted – which would require a change to Australian media law. This is not to mention the audits of due diligence and such like that would have to be undertaken by legal experts before any bid could be completed.
The Australian government have also been dragged into the battle, as any change in law would have to be agreed by the crossbench in Canberra and this is proving to be difficult due to there being so many media lobbyists involved.
With such a complex web of legal intricacies to be ironed out, it is hard to see, at this stage, who the likely favourites to come out on top are. Foreign Investment Review Board approval is needed by CBS before sunset on 15 December, if they are to win the bid.
One factor, however, is clear and that is that this is a battle that could turn out to rival the one that Rupert Murdoch had, many years ago, with Kerry Stokes. Stokes was looking for a broadcaster to support his C7 sports network.
The legal case that transpired, turned out to be one of the longest in Australian history and the winner of that battle? Rupert Murdoch.