John Drinnan

Media writer for the New Zealand Herald

MediaWorks handover called to halt

MediaWorks owns TV3 and Four as well as half the country's commercial radio stations including RadioLive, the Rock and the Edge. Photo / Dean Purcell
MediaWorks owns TV3 and Four as well as half the country's commercial radio stations including RadioLive, the Rock and the Edge. Photo / Dean Purcell

Receivers have called a last-minute halt to the handing of MediaWorks to new owners. Receiver KordaMentha has failed to renegotiate programming deals with distributors, especially the Fox television studio.

KordaMentha said it would hand over MediaWorks on Sunday to bankers who wrote off huge amounts of debt and have taken equity.

But Fox - which owns TV3's top shows and also the less popular shows MediaWorks wants to discard under renegotiation - has resisted and KordaMentha is now forecasting the handover will be "weeks away".

It appears the terms of the receivership require programming deals to be pared back. Receivers have played down the delay.

MediaWorks owns TV3 and Four as well as half the country's commercial radio stations including RadioLive, the Rock and the Edge.

"Some complex commercial arrangements were still being renegotiated with suppliers, said Brendon Gibson of KordaMentha.

Despite its suddenness, KordaMentha said the delay was "unsurprising" as it was "not uncommon in a complex transaction of this nature".

But the use of receivership to effectively restructure the firm to pass it over to creditors is not common. As well as discarding a large swathe of debt - the company owed $527 million - the receivership potentially allows MediaWorks to avoid a disputed tax liability.

The Fox deal is especially important because it makes up 40 per cent of the programming for Four.

Fox wants to maintain the full deal. MediaWorks wants to be able to pick and choose content - as would other buyers such as TVNZ and Sky TV should negotiations fail.

- NZ Herald

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