Ten Network auction on hold for two weeks

DetailsRebecca Hawkes | 06 January 2015

The auction of Australian free-to-air (FTA) broadcaster Ten Network Holdings has been suspended until the middle of January at the earliest, according to local reports.

Ten's independent directors, headed by Brian Long, will then resume assessing the four bids: from New York-based fund manager Anchorage Capital Group, US acquisition firm Silver Eagle, American TV network turnaround specialist Saban Capital Group, and a joint bid from Foxtel and Discovery Communications.

The FTA broadcaster is struggling behind competitors Nine and Seven. However, Ten says it will nearly double revenue from its top summer programme, Big Bash League cricket, after signing four new sponsors and renewing existing agreements with KFC Australia and Holden. The network's sales chief Louise Barrett has also announced 'member packages' for companies seeking a lower entry point to back the coverage.

Industry observers have suggested a programming and cash injection from what the Sydney Morning Herald calls the 'favoured' Foxtel-Discovery takeover combination could also help improve Ten's profitability.

There is also speculation that the Australian Football League (AFL) postponed the auction of its TV rights until Ten's future is clearer; ultimately to increase the number of available bidders for the sporting rights.

If Foxtel's bid with Discovery is successful, the 21st Century Fox-owned Australian pay-TV operator would acquire a 14.9% stake in Ten to meet regulations limiting concentration of ownership.