World Briefs

UNITED KINGDOM

Pearson TV is now in exclusive negotiations to buy Talkback Prods., the London-based indie producer, for £70 million ($112 million).

Pearson was previously vying with Carlton Communications for the deal, but now is expected to seal the takeover within the next two weeks. This is part of Pearson TV’s move to broaden its creative range beyond its core business of soaps and gameshows.

GERMANY

Shopping channel Home Order Television has revamped its e-commerce platform in a move to lead the local market in online retailing, the company said Friday.

H.O.T. now offers 5,000 products from the new Web site, developed on Teutonic software giant Intershop’s platform.

Shareholders include U.S.-based Home Shopping Network; Thomas Kirch, son of media mogul Leo; former ProSieben topper Georg Kofler; and mail-order group Quelle.

INDIA

Zee Telefilms will list on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) under the ticker symbol ZEE.

NYSE chairman Richard Grasso said four other Indian telecom and IT companies — Videsh Sanchar Nigam (VSNL), Mahanagar Telephone Nigam (MTNL), HCL Technologies and Silverline Industries — will list on the NYSE by the end of this year.

ZEE Telefilms has bought a 51% controlling interest in an all-stock deal in the south-based Malayalam satellite network Asianet Communications (ACL).

With this acquisition, the Subhash Chandra-promoted Zee Network has acquired a foothold in south India.

SOUTH AFRICA

Parliament has approved legislation paving the way for the establishment of an independent communications authority.

Under the legislation, the South African Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (SATRA) and the Independent Broadcasting Authority (IBA) — the country’s audio-visual regulatory authority — will be abolished and their powers transferred to the new authority.

AUSTRALIA

Video Ezy may face fines of $6 million after the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission found the major video retailer had wrongly used the upcoming Goods and Services Tax (GST) as an excuse to raise prices.

Video Ezy is the first Oz company to be caught by the Commission’s price spies. The 456-store video giant, which is owned by Malaysian property giant Berjaya Berhad and controls 30% of Oz’s video rental market, denies the charge, saying the price hikes were a result of store refurbishments and new video stock.

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