MCN boss Fitzgerald open to merging sales operation with any free to air network

MCNThe boss of subscription television’s biggest sales house MCN says that “it makes sense” to merge the operation with that of one of Australia’s free to air networks.

The comments from Multi Channel Network CEO Anthony Fitzgerald follow speculation that MCN is in talks with Ten to take on its sales operation.

Fitzgerald – a veteran of the TV industry – would be the likely leader of any joint operation given his ten years at the helm of MCN and 18 years with Seven Network before that.

Speaking to Mumbrella at an MCN event, he declined to comment on the speculation that his company was in talks with Ten, but added: “As the whole notion of competition is changing, it makes sense that MCN and a television network come together to change the landscape.

It makes good business sense for us and I think it would make great business sense for a free to air network to join with us to change the dynamic of the landscape and look for new growth opportunities.”

Ten’s current ratings woes have begun to cause some concerns in the TV trading market that its weakened bargaining position potentially gives too much power to Nine and Seven. Many media agencies are beginning the process of negotiating spending deals with the networks on behalf of their clients for 2014.

With Ten at a historically low share of viewing, Seven and Nine will both be arguing they deserve a bigger slice of adspend. With Nine looking to launch an ASX float before the end of the year, it will show little mercy to Ten when it comes to squeezing greater share from the market.

As Channel Ten reported a $285m loss in its end of financial year results listed on the ASX last week, Fitzgerald says he expects MCN to achieve double digit growth over the next year.

However, any deal would still face regulatory hurdles as regulators would want to weigh up whether a single third strong competitor brings more competition than two weaker third and fourth players

“The television landscape and the media landscape generally is changing at a very very fast pace,” Fitzgerald said. “Where once there were three free to air television networks, now MCN is in the mix, and television itself has many more competitors today than it once had.”

Megan Reynolds


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