SYDNEY: Ten Group, owner of Network Ten's TV operations in the nation's five state capital cities, announced last week it had secured agreement from controlling shareholder CanWest that any sale of the latter's 56.4% stake would lead to a full takeover bid by the buyer.

That assurance was sought after CanWest's public statement last month that it was reviewing its options in the light of recent changes in the federal law governing media ownership.

CanWest, hedging its bets, has also reserved the right not to sell its stake in Ten, while at the same time enlisting the help of Ten's senior management in identifying potential buyers.

Says Ten executive chairman Nick Falloon: "A deal now could happen very quickly or it could take a while. There's clearly been lots of conversations with parties but until we reached this agreement [with CanWest], it's been difficult for them to be supplied with all the necessary information."

Ten Group also owns 100% of Eye Corp, one of the nation's largest out-of-home media operators, with businesses in Australia, New Zealand, Asia, Europe and North America.

Among Australia's commercial broadcasters, Ten lags Network Seven in terms of audience coverage; also Nine when measured by consistent programme popularity. However, it is Australia's most profitable TV operation, primarily due to tight expenditure controls.

Its main focus is on viewers aged 16-39 and for the last four years has led the ratings in this key demographic.

The company hopes that any sale will be completed by the end of August 2007.

Data sourced from Sydney Morning Herald; additional content by WARC staff