Police enter TV wrangle

By Maria Slade

Image / TV One
Image / TV One

Police have been asked to look into two complaints against the producer behind hit TV shows Dream Home, Location Location Location and Sensing Murder.

The receivers of Ninox Television have laid two police complaints against one of the company's directors, John McEwen.

It's the latest development in a long-running and complex wrangle which has ultimately meant the demise of the top-rating shows.

Receivers PKF Corporate Recovery and Insolvency allege money due to the failed company "was fraudulently intercepted and received" and that property belonging to Ninox was taken.

The Herald on Sunday understands the complaints relate to income from overseas sales of the programmes and to goods allegedly taken from the company's lock-up.

Last week Wellington police confirmed they had "received a file from Auckland in relation to the complaint against the director of Ninox Television".

McEwen flatly denies the receivers' allegations regarding missing funds and goods. "I know exactly what they're talking about.

"What they're doing is they're putting up a smokescreen and I can answer every question there with a clear conscience."

Ninox was placed in receivership in February last year by its main funder, The World's Fastest Indian producer Gary Hannam. It was renamed NTV. The receivers said at the time this was done as a means of sacking a dysfunctional board.

The company is owned a third each by its directors, McEwen, David Baldock and Pauline Downie.

Creditors were told a new company would be set up which would acquire the assets of Ninox and carry on the business.

The new company was to complete the 10th series of Location Location Location and Dream Home, which were in production at the time.

While the shows were finished and the company set up, the assets were never transferred.

Jane Kiely, who presented Dream Home for 10 years, lamented the end of the shows. "They came up with some really great concepts over the years.

"I'm sad to know that it's gone down the gurgler with a bit of drama. It's a bit like a good reality TV show."

McEwen said at the time of last year's receivership he and Hannam had signed an agreement that the Ninox assets would be transferred to a new company solely owned by himself.

However a March 2009 Memorandum of Understanding with TVNZ states Hannam's interests would be the majority shareholder of the new company. McEwen claimed he had approval from the receivers to do two business deals in May and June, and received funds accordingly.

He had been to the police himself about actions surrounding Ninox but had not laid a formal complaint. "I'm really very, very happy to talk to them."

He said his relationship with Hannam had "completely dissolved".

The assets of Ninox have since been sold to Hannam's interests, but his loan over the company "vastly exceeds the value of the assets", the receivers said.

The other two shareholders, Downie and Baldock, are each $200,000 out of pocket.

In a statement last week, TVNZ said it had no plans to make any of the shows again.

- Herald on Sunday

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