With the messy legal brawl between Sunraysia TV and Bruce Gordon’s WIN Corporation due to reach the NSW Supreme Court today, there are signs of more corporate activity from Gordon’s media empire.

Could Gordon be positioning WIN for a move on Nine’s Newcastle-based affiliate NBN, currently owned by SP Telemedia, which is part of the empire of Sydney’s Millner family?

WIN has a big shareholding in Telemedia, about 12%, and last night its board representative, Bruce Gordon’s son, Andrew, quit without explanation.

Market analysts say that executives rarely leave boards in which their company has a stake without some kind of explanation (ill-health etc).

The only conclusion to draw is that WIN is intending some corporate activity, such as an approach to buy NBN from SP Telemedia, and the Gordons want to avoid a conflict of interest.

If that happens, it will give WIN control of the east coast regional TV market for Nine Network content from far north Queensland into Victoria. It is quite a position of strength, especially if WIN can also win STW 9 in Perth.

“Sources” close to Nine have been telling the AFR that WIN haven’t been paying enough for Nine content while WIN, NBN, STW 9 and Southern Cross have all told Nine that the network has to lift its ratings game.

The affiliation agreements for WIN and NBN are due to expire at the end of June. If there’s no settlement, will Nine have the guts to turn the signal off, and suffer a damaging and financially unattractive drop in revenues and profits? And could WIN and NBN withstand a drop in earnings from having no signal?

Of course, once the new media laws are proclaimed in July, Bruce Gordon will simply sell WIN to someone else, a foreign buyer with programming arrangements and deep pockets. He has dealt with Rupert Murdoch before.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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