Regional TV broadcaster WIN has avoided going off-air at midnight after reaching a deal with the Nine Network to continue to carry its content.
The two broadcasters had been locked in negotiations over the rebroadcasting rights, with Nine looking to increase its share of WIN’s ad revenue from 39 to 49 per cent in exchange for access to its content. The current deal was due to expire at midnight.
However the two sides have agreed a new six-month deal “on terms that provide for additional payments to Nine over that period” while adding both have “agreed to work together on a range of opportunities relating to their content and to the mutual growth of their respective businesses”.
Nine is understood to be in negotiations for a takeover of WIN, which services around 25 per cent of the population, although any such deal would require the government to change reach rules as part of a wider mooted overhaul of media laws.
That change would lead to a series of consolidations in the media sector.
In a statement to the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX:NEC) Hugh Marks, CEO of Nine, said “Broadcast television is evolving, but the role of the affiliate and its relationship with the local community remains important. This extended deal with WIN ensures Nine’s premium content continues to be available to all Australians for free, 24 hours a day.”
In a note to staff following the announcement Marks also said the deal gave the network a chance to work on “longer term options” for broadcast, with Southern Cross Austereo’s deal with Ten expiring in June 2016.
Andrew Lancaster, CEO, of WIN Network said:”WIN understands the importance of free to air television to regional viewers and advertisers and we will always work to broadcast the best programs in our 23 markets across regional Australia. The six month agreement extension provides a continuing program supply for our viewers and advertisers as we explore business opportunities.”
It is understood there are no immediate negotiations set to start between WIN and Nine.
That reference to the evolution of broadcast TV could be a nod towards Nine’s plans to start streaming its own content on the internet, following a similar initiative by the Seven Network.
However regional broadcasters have expressed concerns at that move, which they claim will undermine their advertising base as it will be available to viewers in regional regions.
Nine was after a bigger slice of ad dollars from WIN, owned by Bermuda-based billionaire Bruce Gordon, after forking out a record $925m to secure the rights to the NRL. Gordon also owns 14.9 per cent of Nine and is the largest stakeholder in Network Ten.
Nine CEO Hugh Marks sent the following note to staff after the deal:
Today we’ve released the attached statement to the ASX following a late night deal with WIN for interim 6 month affiliation terms. It’s a great outcome for Nine and puts us in a good position to work on longer term options over the next 6 months.
I would like to thank all of the Nine team who worked above and beyond over the last few weeks to make this happen, many of whom interrupted their holidays. Your efforts and support are much appreciated, as it takes everyone working together to achieve these results.
And given the timing, an opportunity for me to wish everyone a happy, prosperous and safe New Year’s Eve and I look forward to seeing you in 2016.