Tuesday, June 18, 2013

MediaWorks Bites The Dust

The troubled owner of TV3 and half of New Zealand's commercial radio stations chomped into the dusty ol' receivership sandwich yesterday.
MediaWorks owes about $700 million - that's from its 2007 sale to Australian private equity firm Ironbridge by Canada's CanWest Global Communications. After more than six years, MediaWorks has struggled to pay even the interest bills!
But managing director Sussan Turner says there're no plans to make any of the company's 1400 staff redundant: "It's business as usual." It's hoped it'll emerge from the receivership in a restructured form, with debts of less than $100 million. So, just how will it either discover a spare $600m or write it off? And with no redundancies? "Our core business is strong and all divisions are trading well. We're confident we can successfully build on this solid platform." She did say no redundancies, right?
A possible new board appointee may be Julie Christie, reality tv show producer (who can make a silk purse out of a sow's ear - see how her tv shows manage to score taxpayer subsidies while not adhering to their original briefs!)
MediaWorks' tentacles extend over the whole country. It operates two TV networks, and its insatiable hunger for every possible radio frequency has enabled it to establish eight nationwide radio networks. It also owns five regional stations, and a new media division, MediaWorks Interactive, that includes 18 websites and a mobile network.
Ironbridge bought MediaWorks in 2007 for $561m, but the broadcaster has needed repeated and ongoing financial restructuring, breaking several debt deals. In 2010 it scored a $43m govt loan to pay for radio spectrum licence renewals - remember the howls from opponents, citing Communications Minister Steven Joyce's conflict-of-interest as past managing director of the company's RadioWorks division??? (That loan was repaid in Oct.2012.)
It's understood Ironbridge and its co-investors have lost all the money they invested. MediaWorks was significantly larger than any of their other investments.
OK, so just to clarify: no redundancies? Watch this space...

PS: 18 June 2013 - MP Winston Peters calls the deal "shonky"!

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