UPDATES BSkyB Still Rejects News Corp’s Increased Offer But Both Agree to Keep Negotiating & Proceed With Regulatory Process For Deal
The Murdoch father and son have been taken aback by Sky’s directors holding out for £1 billion ($1.5 billion) more from News Corp before it owns the company. So reports the BBC. Sky says it will accept an offer from News Corp worth 800 pence a share for the 61% of the pay TV company it does not own already. This would value BSkyB at £14 billion, costing News Corp £8.5 billion ($12.8 billion). A £14 billion deal would also value the company at 13 times earnings before interest, taxation, depreciation and amortisation. The usual multiple for media deals is 6 times EBITDA. An 800 pence offer would also represent a 46% premium over BSkyB’s average 549p closing price over the past 12 months. Talks are ongoing.
BSkyB’s directors have rejected News Corp’s initial proposal, worth £7.8 billion or 700 pence a share. “James Murdoch and Rupert Murdoch were shocked by the extent of the opposition they met from an organisation they believe works pretty closely to them,” reports BBC news programme Today. Of … Read More »
Goodbye SOAPnet, hello Disney Junior. Disney/ABC Television Group just announced that it will launch Disney Junior, a new 24-hour basic cable/satellite channel dedicated to preschool-age children in 2012. The new channel will replace SOAPnet, now available in 75 million homes, which will end its 12-year run at that time.
Anne Sweeney, president of the Disney/ABC Television Group, addressed the decision to drop SOAPnet. “The decision to ultimately transition SOAPnet to accomplish this was not arrived at lightly,” she said. “SOAPnet was created in 2000 to give daytime viewers the ability to watch time-shifted soaps, before multiplatform viewing and DVRs were part of our vocabulary. But today, as technology and our businesses evolve, it makes more sense to align this distribution with a preschool channel that builds on the core strengths of our company.” Additionally, soaps, once a staple of daytime programming, have been steadily losing ground, with three, CBS’ Guiding Light and As The World Turns and NBC’s Passions canceled in the past couple of years.
The 24-hour Disney Junior schedule will feature 200 new episodes annually of new series, including Jake and the Never Land Pirates; current shows, including Mickey MouseClubhouse, Handy Manny, Special Agent Oso, Imagination Movers and Jungle Junction, as well as Disney features, including 101 Dalmatians, Aladdin and Little Mermaid. The Disney Junior brand will first be introduced on Disney Channel’s daily programming block for preschoolers, where it will replace the current … Read More »
ABC Family has acquired the basic cable TV rights to NBC/DirecTV’s high school drama Friday Night Lights in a deal with NBC Universal Domestic TV Distribution. The deal gives ABC Family the rights to five seasons of the critically praised series whose upcoming fifth season on DirectTV and NBC is expected to be its last. Season 4 of the show now airs on NBC, while Season 5 will premiere on DirecTV on October 28.
ABC Family will air FNL starting with its first season, which is tentatively set to begin running on the cable network in September. The series, based on the feature and the book of the same name, is produced by UMS, Imagine and Film 44. Peter Berg, who wrote and directed the pilot, is executive producing with Jason Katims, Brian Grazer, David Nevins and Sarah Aubrey. Like FNL, most ABC Family series are set in high school, including flagship drama The Secret Life of American Teenager. The network’s off-network series include Gilmore Girls, That ’70s Show and Full House.
The satellite broadcaster tells me it has delisted from the NYSE to save money. Less than 2% of its shares are traded in New York, yet it costs between $5-10 million annually to comply with NYSE regulations. Instead, BSKyB will now list its shares on the much smaller OTCQX exchange.
BSkyB will join other European companies including BASF, Allianz and Imperial Tobacco that have listed on the OTCQX. In total, only 112 companies belong to the OTCQX. All of the European companies that have made the jump say it’s just not worth the compliance costs, given the small percentage of shares traded in the US.
DISH threatened to drop The Weather Channel last week over complaints that the channel doesn’t provide localized weather reports for satellite viewers. DISH had planned to replace TWC with its own weather-themed channel.
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. and ATLANTA – May 24, 2010 – DISH Network L.L.C. and The Weather Channel today announced that they have reached a multi-year agreement for continued distribution of The Weather Channel on DISH Network’s programming platform. The deal provides for collaboration between both companies in developing state-of-the-art, full-time weather forecasting services designed specifically for satellite customers, including localized weather programming on DISH Network Ch. 213 (in addition to The Weather Channel’s main feed on Ch. 214), interactive TV applications, as well as new Internet and mobile services. Deployment of the new services will begin this summer.
“Through this new partnership with The Weather Channel, DISH Network is giving our subscribers exactly what they’ve asked for and more. Not only are we developing a unique satellite service that provides localized weather 24/7, but also we’ll soon deliver personalized weather reports via the Android mobile platform and the web,” said Dave Shull, senior vice president of Programming for DISH Network.
“DISH Network and their customers are extremely important to us, and maintaining and expanding our partnership is a high priority for our company,” said Mike Kelly, CEO and President of The Weather Channel. Additional terms of the deal were not disclosed.
UPDATE: DISH reportedly has agreed to keep The Weather Channel on while the two sides continue to negotiate.
PREVIOUS: DISH Network threatened to drop The Weather Channel at midnight tonight over a carriage fee dispute. The satellite provider plans to launch its own weather-centered channel, Weather Cast.
“Despite negotiations over the past several months, DISH has chosen to be the first distributor to drop The Weather Channel rather than pay the standard industry rates others in the industry have already agreed to pay,” Weather Channel said in a statement Thursday and encouraged its viewers in the 14 million DISH homes to switch to rival satcaster DirecTV or a cable company.
DISH, meanwhile has bulked at the fee increase sought by Weather Channel, said to be in the 10% range, citing the channel’s venture into entertainment content, including movies, and its inability to provide local weather information for satellite viewers.
NEW YORK, Apr 19, 2010 — EPIX today announced its launch on DISH Network, making its content available to the distributor’s more than 14.1 million customers around the nation. This is the first national distribution deal for EPIX, the pay channel joint venture formed by Viacom Inc, its Paramount Pictures unit, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc. and Lionsgate. Specific terms of the agreement with the DISH Network were not disclosed. EPIX now has made carriage agreements with 6 distributors: DISH Network, Verizon FiOS, Cox, Charter, Mediacom and NCTC, for service available to consumers in over 30 million homes by May 2010.
Sky will pay less for indie and even major studio films if the British government forces it to slash movie channel prices, distributors fear. Ofcom, the UK government regulator, is expected to announce in March that it will force satellite broadcaster BSkyB to cut the amount it charges cable rival Virgin Media for its movie channels. BSkyB could have to drop its movie channel prices by up to 39%.
Indie distributors fear that BSkyB will try and make up for the money by low-balling them when it comes to buying movies. “If Sky gets less money from Virgin then it will have less cash to spend on content. It may therefore have an immediate impact on those selling films to Sky on an ad hoc basis,” said one distributor. BSkyB already only pays indies around a third of what it pays a studio for a similar-performing movie, complained another. Read More »
News Reports say British Sky Broadcasting Group today lost its latest attempt to stop the UK government forcing it to sell down its 17.9% holding in broadcaster ITV, a development likely to renew bid speculation for ITV even as it looks for a new chief executive. The UK satellite TV operator overseen by James Murdoch has made numerous legal attempts to challenge a ruling by the British antitrust authority.
From Deadline|London editor Tim Adler: The number of television channels in Europe continued to nudge upwards in 2009 despite the global recession. There are 7,200 television channels based in Europe. If you take into account U.S. channels and others being beamed into the EU, the number of channels available to European viewers reaches a staggering 8,600. Movie channels and television drama continue to dominate in terms of channel genre. There were 496 movie and drama channels in the 27 European Union member states last year. Sports were in second place with 419 channels followed by light entertainment (318 channels).
There were 25 more television channels being watched in European homes overall last year. The most popular genre for new channels were sports channels (38 new channels in 2009), followed by children’s channels (17 launches). Although 245 new European channels launched, there were about 220 closures. Almost half of the closures came from Spain, where Prisa Group shut down 100 local Spanish channels. Other notable closures included MTV closing its Baltic versions and the Setanta Group’s botched attempt to show UK Premier League football (ESPN took over control of soccer rights). According to the European Audiovisual Observatory, the Strasbourg-based film and television data organisation, Italy is the second busiest hub for TV channels, hosting 388, followed by France (297), Germany (227) and then Spain (195).
Remember when Britain had only the BBC and ITV? Then came the launch of Channel 4 in the mid-1980s. Well, Britain now hosts more than a thousand … Read More »
From Deadline|London editor Tim Adler: This is the first time that a UK broadcaster has ever gone into a joint venture with a Chinese counterpart, developing formats first for the Chinese market and then exporting them back to Britain and the world. Because Beijing’s state control of the media has prevented China from fully joining the global TV market. Now ITV Studios, the production arm of the British broadcaster, is developing unscripted entertainment shows with Chinese broadcaster Hunan Television. Hunan TV and ITV Studios will work together to create and co-own these unscripted formats this year. James Ross, ITV Studios’ Hong-Kong-based Global Entertainment regional director, told Deadline|London: “The key thing about this project is that we’re jointly developing new and unique show formats for broadcast first on Hunan Satellite TV, which we will then distribute globally.” ITV wouldn’t say how much it or Hunan TV is investing in the joint venture. All it would say that both sides are dedicating “considerable resources.” Nor would it give any idea of what formats the two broadcasters are developing. These have yet to be decided. But, once aired, they will reach an audience of more than 58 million viewers domestically. ITV Studios already has an office in Hong Kong as well as in America, Australian, Brazil, Germany, Spain and Sweden. U.S. reality shows created by ITV include Hell’s Kitchen and I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here!
News reports say DirecTV will announce today that Michael White, CEO of PepsiCo International and vice chairman of PepsiCo, will be the new No. 1 at DirecTV. White replaces Chase Carey, who left to become the No. 2 at News Corp. White will start in January and join DirecTV’s board of directors. DirecTV is in the process of splitting off from John Malone’s Liberty Media into a stand-alone publicly traded entity. I don’t get how soda sales experience = subscription sales experience.
EXCLUSIVE: This is how Epix is launching as it bills itself as the “next generation” premium entertainment service from Viacom, Paramount Pictures, Lionsgate, MGM/UA, Samuel Goldwyn Films, and Roadside Attractions. For the more than one million people invited to experience the free weekend previews starting today, it’s available on a first come, first serve basis through Thanksgiving weekend. I’ve learned that EPIX is reaching out to U.S. consumers about the free weekend preview through social media, online fan sites, and traditional advertising on television, radio, print, online and out-of-home to invite them to experience EpixHD.com. To participate, online visitors to EPIX’s website can register for free online 3-day weekend-long passes giving them complete access to the launch programming. The lineup includes Madonna’s Sticky & Sweet: Live from Buenos Aires, Marvel/Paramount’s Iron Man, and the exclusive comedy special Eddie Izzard: Live From Wembley. The EPIX launch weekend will also debut more than 15 world television premieres with a combined worldwide box office value of more than $2.5 billion — including Paramount’s The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Lionsgate’s Tyler Perry hit Madea Goes to Jail, MGM’s Pink Panther 2, Paramount/Lucasfilm’s Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, and Paramount’s Cloverfield. Also offered are more than 150 films and additional programming in an online on-demand format. To lure younger viewers, EpixHD.com has some technological tricks to showcase, like an online screening room feature which enables consumers to invite up to four friends anywhere to watch movies while … Read More »
Just now, while a guest on CNBC, superstar investor Mario Gabelli said that DirecTV “is going to be made love to by Verizon or AT&T”. Well, we all knew that John Malone wasn’t going to sit quietly by as his arch-rival Comcast swallowed NBCU and god knows what else. Now DirecTV and the telcos is yet another of the strategic alliances forming as Big Media consolidates even further.
TiVo just issued this statement regarding the contempt sanctions ordered by the U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Texas, in the lawsuit against EchoStar and Dish: “We are pleased by the Court’s ruling to impose contempt sanctions of approximately $200 million against EchoStar for its continued violation of a Court-ordered permanent injunction, and to award TiVo its attorney fees and costs incurred during the contempt proceedings. This brings total damages and sanctions in this case to approximately $400 million through July 1, 2009, plus attorney fees, and is exclusive of potential further damages and sanctions. Additionally, we are pleased that the Court ‘will seriously entertain the award of enhanced sanctions’ if ‘EchoStar is unsuccessful on appeal and nevertheless continues to disregard this Court’s orders.’ We are confident that this ruling brings us closer to final resolution.”
TiVo, a pioneer of digital-video recording services, had sought $974.5 million from Dish for contempt of court in their 5 1/2-year patent battle. Dish, the second-biggest U.S. satellite-television provider, and EchoStar told a federal judge in July that the company has acted in good faith and sanctions aren’t appropriate. But U.S. District Judge David Folsom in Texarkana, Texas, found a $2.25 royalty per DVR subscriber was appropriate. Dish and Echostar were ordered on June 2 by Folsom to stop using a digital-video recorder that infringed the TiVo patent. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit had put Folsom’s order on hold until an appeal … Read More »
I’m told not to look for any resolution soon in that dispute between DirecTV and Comcast over the sports channel Versus. As you know, the El Segundo-based satellite TV provider on Tuesday stopped broadcasting Versus after Comcast wanted a huge money increase from DirecTV to carry the channel. So DirecTV called Comcast’s bluff, reportedly saying something to the effect that Half your programming is informercials, and the rest is bike races and bullriding and bass fishing. OK, it’s off. As one of my insiders puts it, “These wars are just beginning.”
The financial press is saying News Corp. is close to an agreement to buy back Liberty Media’s $11 billion stake in Rupe’s media giant. The Wall Street Journal, quoting people familiar with the situation, say Liberty in exchange would get News Corp’s 38+% stake in satellite-TV firm DirecTV Group — which is big, BIG news — as well as some cash and other assets. The agreement, which could be finalized in the next few weeks, would end a two year old stand-off between the two companies over Liberty’s accumulation of a 19% voting interest in News Corp. in 2004. John Malone’s back-door stake in Rupe’s media conglomerate has bugged the crap out of Murdoch for years. Back during the News Corp. shareholders’ meeting in October, Rupe had predicted a “pretty quick resolution” with Malone. The big news there was that shareholders approved an extension of that “poison pill” anti-takeover measure by a rather vote of 57 percent. The slim margin of success indicated shareholder’s discontent with Murdoch, who controls the company by virtue of his family’s 31% stake in the company’s voting shares. But the approval gives Rupe greater leverage over media investor Malone, the chairman of Liberty Media Corp., whose surprise move to suddenly accumulate a stake (now about 19%) in News Corp.’s voting shares — now at 19% — prompted News Corp. to first adopt the poison pill measure in November 2004. Murdoch had predicted a deal to swap Malone’s stake for an asset owned by News … Read More »