Seven denies talks with Fairfax, as court document suggests Ten tie-up with News Corp



Seven has issued a statement denying it has been involved in talks with Fairfax Media, following revelations Kerry Stokes’ media company believes News Corp is planning to buy Ten when media laws are relaxed.

The statement from Seven follows reports last week in The Australian speculating a tie-up between Seven West Media and Fairfax and follows today’s reports on the release of legal documents in an ongoing court battle suggesting Seven told programmer John Stephens it believes News Corp Australia is planning to buy Ten, which became a factor in him changing his mind on the deal.

Hamish McLennan, CEO of Network Ten, wrote in a sworn affidavit he had called Stephens on March 8, after he had signed a contract with Ten to take the job as director of scheduling and acquisitions at the network asking Stephens how Seven executives had taken the news he would be leaving the company.

The Australian Financial Review reports Stephens replied: “They didn’t take it well. They asked me if I signed. I said yes, and they said, ‘Oh no, why did you do that? Don’t you realise that Ten is going to be bought by News Corporation and there will be a change of ownership. Are you insane?”

McLennan then replied: “There is no indication that they will do that. There has just been a lot of speculation in the market. In any case, it’s up to the government to change the laws.”

Ten had announced the veteran programmer, who has 40 years’ experience at Nine and Seven, would join the network a fortnight ago and McLennan said Stephens would be a critically important addition to the team as it looks to arrest a ratings decline.

Days later Stephens opted out of the job and Ten took Seven to court to fight for the programmer, with legal hearings set for mid-May.

Today’s statement from Seven:

Whilst it does not generally comment on rumours, Seven West Media Limited confirms that it is not involved in any discussions with Fairfax Media.”


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