the Australian media landscape is changing, despite the continuing prevarication
by the Howard Government over its proposed changes to media law and the rules
governing the digital world.

large NSW-based regional broadcaster, WIN, has finally put its foot on the
listed Ten Network by moving its stake to 10.12%. WIN,
which is controlled by reclusive billionaire and former movie operator and ad
salesman, Bruce Gordon, has now spent more than $130 million on building its
stake of just over 40 million shares. Ten shares are trading around $3.09 this morning.

Ten is controlled by Canwest of Canada which in turn is controlled
by the Asper family. They have 57% of Ten’s shares, but that is
restricted to just under 15% of voting shares under a grandfathered
ownership arrangement after Canwest bailed out Ten, with the help of a
number of local investors such as John Singleton, Jack Cowin and Brian

people do not spend money blithely and the $130 million or so is a big chunk of
the Gordon fortune: the money is all borrowed and the holding costs are being
borne by WIN. The move to 10% means that if anyone else wants Ten, they will have to pay considerably more than the
current value and the capitalised holding costs.

Meanwhile the federal minister for communications has
made a policy decision on the run at the Senate Budget Estimates hearings in
Canberra by
ruling out any merger between the Packer-controlled PBL and the Murdoch-controlled News Ltd. It was
quite a dramatic statement from the minister who has yet to release around 200
submissions on her proposed changes to ownership and cross media laws, as well
as the new rules governing digital TV take up and

And the
Seven Network is back in the news because its second
largest shareholder, British broadcaster ITV, has sold its 11.6% stake for 87 million
pounds, or just over $200 million. The
sale was reported this morning. Macquarie handled the sale and the shares went to local
and foreign institutions. Seven executive chairman, Kerry Stokes controls 44% of Seven, so
ownership won’t change with the ITV sale.