Canwest Welcomes Granada Media
Canwest Welcomes Granada Media As Partner In Irish Television Network
WINNIPEG, Sept. 11 RNewswire-AsiaNet/ - CanWest Global Communications Corp. announced today that through a series of financial transactions, Granada Media plc has taken a 45 per cent equity stake in TV3, the Republic of Ireland's fast growing, independent free-to-air national broadcaster. The consideration paid by Granada Media, UK pnds stlg 29.3 million ($Cdn 62.2 million), is a combination of pnds stlg 18.7 million in cash for the equity and an assumption of debt. The transaction reflects an enterprise value of TV3 of UK pnds stlg 65 million (Cdn $138 million). The deal is subject to regulatory approval of the Independent Radio & Television Commission (IRTC).
CanWest, which retains 45 per cent of the equity of TV3, will form a new joint venture company with Granada Media to hold their combined stake, together with the founders of TV3, a consortium consisting of Windmill Lane Pictures Limited, Mr. James Morris, Mr. Osmond Kilkenny and Mr. Paul McGuinness. Mr. James Morris, the current Chairman of TV3 will be non-executive Chairman of the joint venture.
The deal also includes a wide-ranging long-term program supply agreement for TV3 including the UK and Ireland's most popular programs. Among these are Coronation Street, Cracker, Cold Feet and Emmerdale. Coronation Street is Ireland's top- rated television program and will move from RTE, the national state broadcaster, to TV3 beginning January 1, 2001.
The companies also jointly announced an initia tive in Ireland to assist independent producers in the Republic to launch co-production projects.
TV3, Ireland's only independent free-to-air channel, was launched in September 1998. Since then, TV3 has quickly grown its share of the television audience in the Republic of Ireland to over 9 per cent. Introduction of the Granada programs will reinforce the strong growth momentum.
Leonard Asper, CanWest's President and Chief Executive Officer, said: "We welcome Granada Media, one of the United Kingdom's most respected media companies into the TV3 family. This accelerates the already substantial growth of TV3 in Ireland and secures valuable long-term supply of some of the best programming available from the U.K. The deal will substantially increase the value of CanWest's stake in TV3 while at the same time launching a new strategic partnership that opens the door to future cooperation with Granada on new ventures."
Steve Morrison, Chief Executive of Granada Media, said: "This deal is an important step forward in our international expansion strategy and immediately positions Granada Media as a major broadcaster in the Republic of Ireland, one of Europe's most dynamic economies. TV3 is Ireland's only independent free-to- air broadcaster and we expect to strengthen the network considerably with the addition of Coronation Street and Emmerdale to its schedule. "We look forward to working with our fellow shareholders to grow TV3's audience and revenues and make it Ireland's number one channel."
In announcing the Granada supply agreement, Rick Hetherington, Chief Executive Officer of TV3 said: "TV3 is one of the most successful new television entrants in Western Europe in the past 10 years. Granada's expertise in program development and its stable of leading programming will equip the network for the next step in its evolution and provide a sound foundation from which to exploit the digital era."
Hetherington added, "We expect TV3 to be awarded at least two digital channels in the new Irish DTT spectrum, likely to be launched late in 2001. TV3 revenues have grown by 80% in the year just ended and the company is on track to become profitable in the coming year even without the substantial lift that will be provided by the new Granada program supply agreement. We expect TV3's audience and advertising share to accelerate rapidly once Coronation Street and Emmerdale move to TV3 early next year."
CanWest Global Communications Corp. (NYSE: CWG; TSE, WSE: CGS.S and CGS.A; www.canwestglobal.com) is an international media company. CanWest owns, operates and/or holds substantial interests in conventional television, specialty cable channels, and radio networks in Canada, New Zealand, Australia, Ireland and the United Kingdom. The Company's program production and distribution division and interactive media division operate in several countries throughout the world.
Granada Media plc.
(www.granadamedia.com) is a FTSE 100 listed integrated
content creator and broadcaster. It produces content for UK
and international audiences which is distributed by both
third party and proprietary distribution routes, including
free to air, pay TV, digital TV and the internet. It makes
nearly 6,000 hours of original television programs feature
films and TV movies a year, selling them to more than 120
countries. It has 11 different production operations
worldwide, has an interest in eight pay television channels
and a Broadband business which encompasses a range of
Internet and new media ventures. Granada Media owns
broadcasting licenses accounting for one third of the
advertising revenue generated by ITV, the UK's most popular
television channel. It also owns 50 per cent of ONdigital,
the world's first digital terrestrial television operator.
CONTACT: CanWest Global Communications Corp, Geoffrey
Elliot, Vice President, Corporate Affairs, (204) 956-2025;
TV3 Television Network, Rick Hetherington, Chief Executive
Officer, 353-1-419-3333; Granada Media, Citigate Dewe
Rogerson, Simon Rigby, Chris Barrie, 44-20-7638-9571/