ITV Calls Off Purchase of The Weinstein Co. TV Division

Associated Press

The U.K. TV giant has been acquiring U.S., U.K. and other production companies.

U.K. TV giant ITV has decided not to pursue an acquisition of The Weinstein Co.'s TV unit, according to sources.

The British broadcaster, which has been on a buying spree, had been looking at acquiring the business for up to $950 million.

One source at ITV said the company felt that the content and brands of TWC were attractive, but that the TV unit was inextricably linked with the company's film operation. ITV has never expressed an interest in expanding into film.

In addition, shareholders had expressed concern to ITV CEO Adam Crozier about the deal after THR first reported the negotiations. There were also issues with co-founder Harvey Weinstein's employment contract with TWC, which is up for renewal. ITV wanted assurances that Weinstein would not leave to run another company during his ITV employment contract, which was being negotiated at seven years.

ITV and The Weinstein Co. declined to comment.

ITV has been acquiring production firms in the U.S. and U.K. for the the past few years. In March, it paid more than $500 million for John De Mol's Dutch production company Talpa Media, which is behind such formats as The Voice and Utopia. ITV previously struck a $360 million deal for a controlling stake in Pawn Stars producer Leftfield Entertainment Group, a joint venture for Tomorrow ITV Studios with Marty Adelstein, and deals for controlling stakes in Duck Dynasty producer Gurney Prods, Hatfields & McCoys producer Thinkfactor Media, Teen Wolf producer DiGa Vision, Cake Boss maker High Noon and Shaun of the Dead producer Big Talk, among others.

ITV mostly has focused on unscripted production companies. A Weinstein deal would have given it a stronger presence in scripted TV and access to top filmmakers and other talent.

Weinstein co-chairman Harvey Weinstein has made TV a priority in recent years. In addition to the Project Runway franchise on Lifetime, the privately held company has made the likes of Myrtle Manor for TLC and Mob Wives for VH1 in the reality space. Among scripted shows, Netflix recently renewed Marco Polo for a second season.

TWC has recently hired several new executives to oversee the growth of its TV arm, including Megan Spanjian from CBS; Mark Velez, who worked on Empire, from Imagine Television; Patrick Reardon, who is running the unscripted division; and Brad Small, a lawyer formerly of the Bloom Hergott firm, who was named head of television business affairs.

Weinstein has also been working with producer Jason Blum and filmmaker Scott Derrickson on The Breathing Method, a miniseries adaptation of a Stephen King novella that was initially planned as a movie, as well as Book of the Dead, a collaboration with Homeland executive producer Patrick Harbinson.