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Australian TV broadcaster Ten Network is to be sold to US giant CBS

A billboard advertising a television show is displayed near the offices of the Ten Network in Sydney
By Rod McGuirk

Troubled TV broadcaster Ten Network is to be sold to US giant CBS, the Australian company's administrator has announced.

New York-based CBS had "entered into binding transaction documents" to buy the Sydney-based network's owner, Ten Network Holdings, administrator KordaMentha said.

CBS is the biggest creditor of Australia's third most popular free-to-air commercial TV network that went into voluntary administration in June.

The sale is subject to conditions including approval by Australia's Foreign Investment Review Board, KordaMentha said.

The sale price will be revealed in a report to creditors within days.

Armando Nunez, president and chief executive of CBS Studios International, said CBS recognised the significance of Ten to Australian broadcasting.

"We are committed to the efficient, reliable and successful turnaround, operation and development of Ten to support continued growth in Australian media," he said.

CBS chairman and chief executive Leslie Moonves said the sale added Ten to CBS's global content and distribution portfolios.

"We have been able to acquire it at a valuation that gives us confidence we will grow this asset by applying our programming expertise in a market with which we are already familiar," he said.

Ten chief executive Paul Anderson said his network and CBS had a strong relationship.

"We are very excited about further developing that relationship with CBS as an owner and strength that they will provide to the company at this critical time," he said.

Ten appointed administrators after its billionaire backers, Lachlan Murdoch and Bruce Gordon, refused to guarantee a new 250 million-Australian dollar (£154m) bank loan when a current 200 million-dollar loan is due to expire in December.

Mr Murdoch, who co-chairs News Corp with his father Rupert, and Mr Gordon, who owns regional network WIN Television, each want to buy a 50 per cent share in Ten.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, the competition watchdog, said last week it would not oppose the joint bid, saying it was unlikely to result in a "substantial lessening of competition in any relevant market".

But the deal is blocked by laws passed in the 1980s to ensure diversity of media ownership.

The Australian government is currently negotiating with the Senate to relax those laws and allow Mr Murdoch and Mr Gordon to buy the network.

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