CBS Completes Network Ten Deal; Hugh Bonneville Waltzes To PBS New Year’s Special; Alibaba Exec Shuffle – Global Briefs


CBS has completed its purchase of Australian broadcaster Network Ten, acquiring the main free-to-air channel as well as digital spin-offs One and Eleven and streaming service Tenplay. This comes after an ownership saga that lasted months, which saw a bidding war between CBS and News Corp executive co-chairman Lachlan Murdoch and WIN owner Bruce Gordon. The deal will likely lead to Network Ten launching more original content as well as more multi-platform opportunities for CBS shows in Oz. Les Moonves, Chairman and CEO of CBS Corporation, said, “The closing of this acquisition marks the beginning of an exciting opportunity to build and expand on our close working relationship and the great legacy of Network Ten in Australia. I believe our ownership helps ensure that Network Ten’s business will grow long-term, while also benefiting the Australian Media sector as a whole.”


Hugh Bonneville will ring in the new year hosting From Vienna: The New Year’s Celebration 2018 on PBS’ Great Performances January 1. The Downton Abbey alum and Paddington 2 star is taking over duties from Julie Andrews who has hosted the last eight years; prior to that, Walter Cronkite did the honors across 24 years. The production sees the Vienna Philharmonic play under the baton of Italian conductor and Chicago Symphony Orchestra Music Director Riccardo Muti, at the Musikverein, and features Strauss Family waltzes accompanied by the dancing of the Vienna State Ballet. Great Performances executive producer David Horn says, “Hugh Bonneville takes over the reins at a significant moment. 2018 marks the centenary of the end of World War I and this year’s show will be themed with location segments referencing visionaries like artist Gustav Klimt and architect Otto Wagner, who were among the forward thinkers leading the way into the modern era — much like Hugh leading us into a new era of the broadcast.” The Vienna Philharmonic’s traditional New Year’s program is the largest worldwide event in classical music reaching millions of people annually through radio and television in over 80 countries.


Alibaba Digital Media & Entertainment Group CEO Yu Yongfu has been reassigned to lead the e-commerce giant’s strategic overseas investments. Yu is the fast-rising tech exec who was appointed CEO in a reshuffle of the entertainment affiliate just short of a year ago. Per local reports, Yu will take over the new job leading Alibaba’s foreign investment activities on December 1. “Yu has surprised us with his excellent leadership in promoting the strategy and business consolidation of the entertainment division,” Alibaba CEO Daniel Zhang said, according to financial daily Caixin. “We believe he will give us another surprise in building the global investment system.” While there has been speculation as to who would step in for Yu — who has a limited film background — amid his rumored departure from the entertainment division, a sole replacement has not emerged. Rather, a committee of six Alibaba execs will manage the unit with a rotating president. Yang Weidong, CEO of streaming platform Youku Tudou, is up first, Caixin reports. The digital media and entertainment unit recently reported a $513M loss for Q2.


Banijay Group has appointed Frédéric Balmary as Chief Operating Officer of Banijay Studios International. In the newly created position, Balmary will oversee business development for Banijay’s scripted activity through merger and acquisitions operations as well as organic growth. He will report directly to Takis Candilis, Head of Scripted at Banijay Group, working with the existing scripted team and the local Head of Finance and Legal out of Banijay’s Paris office. Balmary was previously Banijay Group Deputy CFO. He joined the company in 2011. The new addition to Banijay’s scripted team follows the recently announced international co-production Farewell Shanghai.

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