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Australian TV station Ten in administration after Murdoch-led backers quit

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Australian television broadcaster Ten Network Ltd said on Wednesday it would enter voluntary administration after creditors including Lachlan Murdoch declined to extend their support for a US$150 million debt guarantee past 2017.

[SYDNEY] Australian television broadcaster Ten Network Ltd said on Wednesday it would enter voluntary administration after creditors including Lachlan Murdoch declined to extend their support for a US$150 million debt guarantee past 2017.

The move lets ratings laggard Ten renegotiate expensive licensing contracts with United States studios for shows such as NCIS and CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.

"The directors of Ten regret very much that these circumstances have come to pass," the company said in a statement, adding that operations would continue "as much as possible on a business as usual basis".

Broadcasters and Ten in particular have suffered large losses and are scrambling to cut costs as advertisers follow viewers who have turned to streaming services like Netflix and Amazon.com Inc's Amazon Prime.

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Ten said it has already agreed, on an informal basis, to new licensing deals with CBS Corp and Twenty-First Century Fox Inc which would halve its future liabilities while still allowing the Sydney-based broadcaster access to those studios' productions over the medium term.

The Sydney-based company was relying on the Australian government to push through legislation to deregulate media ownership and make it easier for traditional media companies to buy each other, although the upper house has yet to agree to the reforms.

Part of that package, a reduction in television licence fees, would result in lower overheads for Ten "after the changes to regulations anticipated to be tabled in parliament tomorrow pass through the parliamentary process", it said.

A day after Ten requested a 48-hour trading halt of its shares while it considered its future, the Australian Securities Exchange said it had suspended the shares indefinitely.

The stock last traded on Friday at 16 cents, having closed at A$2.56 two years earlier.

REUTERS

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