Pearson adds Talkback to growth plan

£62 million brings youth market soap-and-quizshower

LONDON — Pearson Television has bought U.K. indie Talkback Productions for £62 million ($93 million), a premium price but in line with what was expected (Daily Variety, June 13).

The acquisition will broaden Pearson TV’s programming output from its staples of quizshows and soaps, and comes at a time when the U.K.’s major indies are being targeted by big industry players keen to acquire content.

Speculation has it that Pearson TV — which is merging with continental broadcaster and producer CLT-Ufa –has also approached Hat Trick, maker of the BBC’s “Have I Got News For You.” ITV network company Carlton Communications is also thought to be interested and a deal could be worth as much as $150 million.

The upmarket Talkback, which sells primarily to BBC2 and Channel 4, produces “Smack The Pony” and other fare popular with young viewers. The company is 75%-owned by vet comedians Mel Smith and Grif Rhys Jones.

“Talkback brings creative power that complements our existing production business while taking us in major new directions,” Pearson TV chief exec Richard Eyre said.

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