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CBS Corp. is moving closer to full ownership of Australian broadcaster Ten Network, but 21st Century Fox, co-chaired by former Ten chair Lachlan Murdoch, will no longer be supplying its shows to the country’s third-ranked TV network.
Ten confirmed that Fox has canceled all its content supply contracts with the network, meaning shows like The Simpsons, This Is Us and Modern Family, as well as older shows like Mash and Futurama, will no longer appear on Ten or its digital channels Eleven and One. Ten had been the home of The Simpsons for a quarter of a century, and the hit animation had once been Ten’s most popular imported show, although in recent years it had only aired on Ten’s digital channel, Eleven.
In a statement to the Australian Securities Exchange, Ten’s receiver, Korda Mentha, said that Fox had “issued a letter of termination in respect of the Fox Output License Agreement.” Fox will reportedly receive a one-off payment of $2.6 million (AUS$3.4 million) to reclaim debts on a content deal that was previously valued at $289 million with nearly two years to run.
Fox verbally told Ten in mid-October that it would likely cancel its program supply agreement, but negotiations continued. That followed CBS’ success in becoming the preferred bidder for Ten, beating Ten shareholders Lachlan Murdoch and Bruce Gordon to a takeover deal.
The development comes just two weeks before Ten is due to hold its upfront presentation to advertisers and media, in which it will outline its programming plans for 2018. It also comes days after Australia’s Foreign Investment Review Board approved the CBS takeover.
It is unclear if Ten rivals, namely the Seven and Nine networks, will take any of Fox’s programming. Foxtel, owned by News Corp, has pay TV rights to the bulk of Fox programming down under.
A spokeswoman for Nine previously told local media: “We would not be doing an overall deal with Fox. We might want to buy one of their shows, but our focus is very much on local content.”
Separately, a NSW Supreme Court hearing, which is expected to ratify CBS’s takeover of Ten, was adjourned Tuesday to give three minor shareholders more time to challenge an expert assessment of the value of their stakes as “worthless.”
Ten’s auditor KPMG told the court earlier this month that Ten’s shares were worthless with the value of Ten’s business operations outweighed by debt on its outstanding content contracts with CBS and Fox.
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