Again with Oz’s Ten

U, Par reup net deals driven by hit skeins

SYDNEY — Universal and Paramount have renewed pacts with Australia’s Ten Network.

Ten won’t confirm the renewals, but Aussie broadcasting circles have been buzzing about the deals since execs returned from the Mip TV market in Cannes at the beginning of the month.

It’s believed both pacts will tie the studios’ product to Ten through the end of 2008. Deals are driven by series that are performing strongly Down Under, including U’s “Law & Order” franchise and Par’s “Charmed” and “Becker.” Also included is Par’s upcoming (in Oz) “Navy NCIS.”

The Par extension will give Ten rerun rights to “Sex and the City” after Nine passed on them.

Ten didn’t renew its output deal with Sony last year because it objected to high license fees for movies whose value for free-to-air webs has declined markedly in recent years. This year, ratings for movies aired Sunday nights on the three commercial webs have fallen by 12.5%, blamed on a doubling of DVD penetration to 51% in the past year.

It’s likely that in renewing its deals with Par and U that Ten succeeded in lowering the license fees for movies.

Ten was No. 1 in its key 16-39 primetime demo each week of the first eight weeks of the 2004 survey. Last week it revealed group record revenues of A$416 million ($312 million) and pretax earnings of $117 million for the six months to the end of February.

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