Global Showbiz Briefs: Consolidated Media, 'Making Of A Lady', Pinewood, BBC

Seven Group Still Undecided On News Corp.’ $2B Offer For Consolidated Media
In June, News Corp. launched a $2.1B bid for Consolidated Media Holdings, a 25% owner of pay-TV platform Foxtel and 50% owner of the Fox Sports channels, but Seven Group Holdings still hasn’t decided whether to sell its 25.3% stake in CMH. During an earnings report today, Seven Group chief executive Peter Gammell said News has yet to make a formal proposal and there would be no response until then. Gammell said the Seven Group’s request to the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission to review whether it could buy the balance of the shares in CMH did not mean the company would make a counter-offer, only that it wanted to know whether such a transaction would be approved. The ACCC will announce its decision on September 13. James Packer, who owns 50% of CMH, has said he will accept News’ bid in the absence of a higher offer. Seven Group reported today its net profit for fiscal 2012 more than doubled to $165.9M on revenues of $4.46B. But it wrote down by $483.5M the value of its investment in Seven West Media which owns the Seven Network, Pacific Magazines and West Australian Newspapers. The group also announced Ryan Stokes, son of the company’s chairman Kerry Stokes, has been appointed COO. – Don Groves

ITV Casts ‘The Making Of A Lady’
ITV’s two-hour standalone film is adapted from the novel by Frances Hodgson Burnett who’s better known for such classics as The Secret Garden, A Little Princess and Little Lord Fauntleroy. Ab Fab‘s Joanna Lumley, Cloud Atlas‘ James D’Arcy, Linus Roache, recently seen in ITV’s Titanic mini and The Crimson Petal And The White‘s Lydia Wilson are co-starring. Kate Brooke, a writer on ITV’s upcoming Jeremy Piven series Mr. Selfridge, wrote the TV adaptation. The Victorian age story centers on a well-born but penniless lady’s companion who reluctantly marries for survival rather than romance. Life-threatening intrigue ensues in a stately manor involving her husband’s extended family and the household staff. Runaway Fridge TV, which produced last year’s Page Eight with Bill Nighy and Rachel Weisz, is producing, Richard Curson Smith directs.

Pinewood Forging Ahead With Expansion
Pinewood Shepperton chairman Lord Grade told shareholders today the studio group has “performed strongly during difficult economic conditions.” There’s been major investment in the company’s television business and film revenues are at near capacity activity, he said. The next James Bond movie, Skyfall, recently shot at Pinewood as did Les Miserables. Disney’s Maleficent is in residence. The company put its £200M Project Pinewood on hold in January after planning permission was refused, but Grade said today “The consideration of the future expansion of Pinewood Studios is ongoing. We are aiming to submit a planning application in the autumn.” The chairman insisted on the need to set a long-term plan for growth and investment. “The company continues to invest in its facilities to ensure high levels of utilization and that it remains a leading destination of choice for producers of creative content.” – Joe Utichi

BBC Mulling Closure Of In-House Production Arm?
Will the BBC’s incoming director general George Entwistle shut down its in-house production unit? Senior execs, including BBC4 controller Richard Klein, used the recent Edinburgh TV Festival to speculate about the need to outsource production to encourage competition and hold down costs, The Telegraph notes. But excising in-house productions might prove detrimental in the long run, as the corporation would have fewer assets for its commercial arm, BBC Worldwide, to exploit. Currently, the BBC orders at least half of its £1B annual programming budget in all genres but news, sport and current events from in-house studios. But independent productions largely outperformed in-house during the 2011-12 financial year.  – Joe Utichi

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