No oohs in Oz reg change

Local media companies showing little interest

Recent changes in Oz’s foreign and cross media ownership laws were designed to spur a buying spree by media congloms. But, after waiting a decade for such reforms, is anybody in the mood to shop?

Under the regs, companies can now own a TV station, a radio station and a newspaper in one market. But the change has so far elicited little interest from Oz media companies so it looks like it’s up to international buyers to shake things up.

Publisher Fairfax has been named by a number of analysts as the most likely takeover target. It’s had a long list of suitors, including Blighty’s Pearson (publisher of the Financial Times) and Canada’s CanWest (owner of the Ten Network), which was rumored to be in talks with the publisher a year ago.

The late Kerry Packer was particularly keen on Fairfax, and his PBL — owner of the Nine Network — bought a 15% stake just after John Howard‘s government was elected in 1996, hoping for an imminent change in media laws. But he sold the shares in disgust in 2001 when nothing emerged. James Packer is thought to be less keen on entering publishing.

On the TV front, Rupert Murdoch has previously expressed a desire to own an Oz net. His News Corp. is now considered a foreign company after its move to the U.S., but the new regs mean it’s now free to buy into Oz TV.

But which network?

Ten recently signed an output deal with 20th Century Fox, touting their similar target aud, so the youth network could be a perfect fit.

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