The big question for the Australian media -- especially free-to-air TV -- in the next year isn’t streaming video, the declining ad markets or weak ratings for established programs like The Block, My Kitchen Rules or MasterChef. Nor will it be the emerging deals between News Corp, and perhaps Nine/Fairfax, and social media platforms to try and staunch revenue and profit losses. Nor is it the fate of Stan, the streaming service owned by Nine, or the debt and weak finances of Foxtel (though it could be a player).
No, the big issue will be the future of Kerry Stokes’ 41%-owned Seven West Media (SWM), the fading media giant now worth a fraction of the $4.1 million value created in its 2011 birth from the merger of Seven Network and West Australian Newspapers.
At some stage in the next year, Seven Group Holdings (SGH), Stokes’ key company and holder of that 41% in Seven West Media, will sell out. To whom isn’t known yet, but the best bet in media circles is either News Corp/Foxtel or the Murdoch clan’s other company, Fox Corporation. And when is this deal coming? We may have just seen the first hint of its timing in the surprise announcement by Seven Group Holdings last week that founding director, Bruce McWilliam, would be retiring from the board at the annual meeting in November in order to focus on his role at Seven West.