No. 42: Publishing and Broadcasting Ltd.

Sydney, Australia

Revenue: $1.283 (estimated)

Profit: $156 million (estimated)

Despite a tumultuous year, Kerry Packer’s Publishing and Broadcasting Ltd. (PBL) remains Australia’s biggest media company and a dominant entertainment force.

PBL’s Nine Network is the country’s top rating web, though by reduced and insecure margins after the introduction of new ratings provider OzTam in 2001. Magazine division Australian Consolidated Press is Oz’s premier magazine publisher.

Company controls Crown Casino in Melbourne; Papua New Guinea’s sole broadcaster, EMTV; 80% of Internet investment company Ecorp; a 21% stake in Hollywood’s New Regency; 25% of leading pay TV operation Foxtel; 50% of Fox Sports; 33% of Sky News Channel Australia; 50% of Acxiom; and leading Oz Web site NineMSN, a joint venture with Microsoft.

Packer’s return to the helm after protracted illness reassured analysts who had become wary after the resignation of CEO Nick Falloon and James Packer’s $200 million loss in collapsed telco OneTel resulted in the company’s lowest share price in two years. The revitalized elder Packer has assured the market that his company will invest only in traditional businesses.

PBL is poised to announce a new film distribution division charged with handling feature films produced by Nine Films and Television. One of a planned five-feature slate is in production, “Dirty Deeds,” starring Bryan Brown and Toni Collette. Division will work closely with Hoyts exhibitors, wholly owned by Packer’s private company Consolidate Press Holdings.

One of new CEO Peter Yates’ first tasks was overseeing PBL’s withdrawal from a joint venture with Indian telco HFCL.

Hit hard by a soft advertising market in 2001, Nine is hoping for a ratings bonanza with Endemol reality skein “Chains of Love,” new female-skewed local drama “McLeod’s Daughters” and AFL Aussie rules football in 2002.

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