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Ten loses A$264m, hits out at fees

MasterChef_AUS-2Australia’s Network Ten has slammed existing local media regulation after posting an A$264.4 million (US$209.8 million) half-year loss.

Though the company declared earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortistion of A$7.5 million, a ‘television licence impairment’ of more than A$250 million drove the network to the big loss for the six months to February 28, 2015.

Ten CEO Hamish McLennan welcomed a recent government decision to review current television licence fees, but slammed the current arrangements. “Australia’s licence fee regime remains by far the most punitive in the world,” he said.

“Paying licence fees on top of corporate tax and increasingly onerous Australian content obligations is unreasonable. Every dollar we pay in licence fees is a dollar we cannot spend on local content.”

Ten’s financial situation has been precarious for some time, despite recent improvements to the networks ratings performance.

Pay TV rival Foxtel is expected to take a 14.9% stake in the broadcaster in order to provide some much-needed investment, but ASX-listed Ten once again urged shareholders toshow caution over trading based on media reports.

Ten’s revenues from television came in at A$309.8 million, down from A$315 million in the same period last year, and net debt stood at A$92.3 million.

Ten reported cost management remained a “key focus in order to reinvest in the primetime programme schedule”, but that fixed output deals meant this was made more difficult. Television costs did fall 2.1% following restructuring during 2014.

The channel’s best-performing TV series include MasterChef Australia (pictured), The Bachelor and TBL Families.