Ten’s newly appointed boss Hamish McLennan has issued an angry statement in response to the government’s media reform proposals.
He has called plans to scrap the 75% audience reach rule “staggering” and said it would enable Nine Entertainment Co’s widely rumoured merger plans with the TV assets of Southern Cross Austereo, formerly known as Southern Cross Media, to go ahead.
McLennan said that it was now “obvious to everyone” that Southern Cross Austereo plans to merge its TV assets with Nine and suggested that “whispers have taken place over the back fence” between media minister Stephen Conroy and the potentially merging parties.
The merger can only go ahead if a rule that prevents networks broadcasting to more than 75 per cent of the population is scrapped, which would happen under the media reform proposals.
SCA and Nine are widely rumoured to have been in merger talks, although SCA – a publicly listed company – has not disclosed its intention to merge with Nine.
McLennan said in a statement:
“The Government’s determination to rush through the removal of the 75% audience reach rule is staggering.
“All Australians have the right to know what whispers have taken place over the back fence, and what conversations have been had with the Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Senator Stephen Conroy.
“On March 4 this year, a statement issued by Southern Cross Media said it was ‘reviewing a number of strategic options’ and ‘the board has not, at this stage, formed a view as to any preferred option’.
“It is now obvious to everyone that Southern Cross Media’s intention is to merge with Nine Entertainment Co.”
“But Southern Cross Media remains silent. Its shareholders have a right to know if the company’s directors are meeting their continuous disclosure obligations. Its shareholders have a right to know how detailed and advanced the discussions between Nine and Southern Cross Media are, and what has been discussed with the Government.”