Shortland Street makers sold for $1.07b

JOSH MARTIN
Last updated 13:28 13/05/2014
angela bloomfield

DOCTOR, DOCTOR: Stars of New Zealand's favourite soap Shortland St in action.

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The multinational production company that owns the Shortland Street soap has been sold to two media conglomerates for $1.07 billion.

All3Media, the parent company of Shortland Street production house South Pacific Pictures, has been sold to Discovery Communications and Liberty Global.

South Pacific Pictures founder and chairman John Barnett said productions like Shortland St and Step Dave would be unaffected by the sale.

The sale could mean more Kiwi content in other parts of the world, he said.

Local productions, which also have included Outrageous Fortune, Go Girls and Nothing Trivial, would be exposed to international broadcasters and gain "second run" contracts more easily, he said.

"Discovery and Liberty are two of the biggest players around when it comes to channels and viewers reached, so they are in the business of looking for content all the time," he said.

Liberty Global is the largest international pay-television company globally, while Discovery reaches a global audience of more than 2.5 billion subscribers.

Barnett said that despite the Discovery channel being famous for nature and science documentaries, it was moving into drama production and owned other channels.

"We've got content like Rivers and Coasts and High Country Rescue, which could find a home there through the secondary sales business," he said.

Being owned by two media companies instead of All3Media's previous venture capitalist owner, Permira, encouraged a longer-term financial view regarding production, Barnett said.

Shortland Street is just one portion of All3Media's 8000 hours of content produced in New Zealand, the United States, Britain, the Netherlands and Germany under 17 subsidiary companies.

South Pacific Pictures made a $3 million profit in the year ended last August 31, up from $2.8m in the previous financial year.

Revenues from the sale of New Zealand productions were $49m in the 2013 financial year.

Revenues for All3Media were more than $1b for the financial year ended last August 31.

Discovery Communications and Liberty Global said All3Media would keep its name and creative independence, with the joint venture enticed to buy because of All3Media's content production capabilities.

All3Media co-founder and chairman Steve Morrison said the new ownership would support the companies' expansion into the US market.

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