Twenty-First Century Fox is divesting of its stake in Star China TV. China Media Capital’s management team and CMC itself will acquire Fox’s 47% stake for an undisclosed sum. The company, which was already majority owned by CMC, operates three 24-hour Mandarin-language channels and the Fortune Star Chinese movie library. James Murdoch, Deputy COO, Chairman & CEO of International for 21st Century Fox said the sale was part of a “broader agenda” to streamline “affiliate ownership structures.” In other words, Fox is looking to get out of companies in which it cannot have a majority position, Bloomberg notes. (Last January, Fox increased its holdings in German pay-TV group Sky Deutschland from 49.9% to 54.5% and is believed to still be keen on reviving an aborted attempt to acquire the part of BSkyB it does not already own.) CMC chairman Ruigang Li said the Star China deal marked “a new era” China Media Capital is a partner in DreamWorks Animation’s Chinese venture, Oriental DreamWorks.
The lawyer who blew J.K. Rowling’s cover as the author of detective novel The Cuckoo’s Calling has been fined £1,000 for breaching privacy rules, the BBC reported. Rowling had penned the book under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith but was revealed as its true writer in July after The Sunday Times ran a story outing her. Chris Gossage, a partner at Russells Solicitors, had confided in his wife’s best friend that Rowling had written the book and that person then revealed the information in the course of a Twitter exchange with a journalist. Rowling swiftly took legal action against those responsible. They apologized, and agreed to pay Rowling’s legal fees as well as making a substantial donation to the Soldiers’ Charity. The more recent fines were applied by the UK’s Solicitors Regulation Authority. Sales of Cuckoo’s Calling skyrocketed after the Harry Potter creator’s identity was made public.
Following a roof collapse last month, the West End’s Apollo Theatre is still closed for business. Performances of The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time were cancelled after the ceiling fell in on December 19th, injuring at least 76 people. The cancellations will now extend to January 13th. The Nimax-owned theater is still being investigated to find the cause of the incident. Results are expected in the coming weeks, the BBC said.
Media entrepreneur Richard Desmond is mulling a sale of the UK’s free-to-air broadcaster Channel 5. The Financial Times reported on Thursday that Desmond is looking for a buyer to pay around £700M. Barclays is understood to be advising on options for Channel 5 which Desmond acquired in 2010 for £103.5M. It notably is the home of Big Brother, although its contract for the show expires in 2015. Operating profit for the first half of 2013 was £20.6M and the channel’s weekly average ratings hover around 4%. The FT notes that a sale would strongly raise the antennae of other media groups since it would be one of few deals for an FTA channel in Europe. Parties rumored to have shown interest include ITV and Turner Broadcasting.
Given how tough it is to make comedy translate, this should prove an interesting experiment. Chinese online video site Sohu.com has begun airing Saturday Night Live in China. According to the Associated Press, 10 episodes from the current season are available now while upcoming eps will go online the Monday following the U.S. live show, without subtitles. Subtitled versions and explanations of cultural references will take a week to pull together and go up at 10 PM the next Saturday. Sohu Chairman and CEO Charles Zhang said he didn’t expect the show’s themes to be troublesome in China. “Things that are controversial in America are probably not controversial in China,” he said. “And this talk show is in the spirit of fun and humor.” While the censors routinely police TV and film, online is a slightly different matter. Sohu has also streamed such shows as Lost, The Big Bang Theory and The Voice Of China.