Has TVNZ gone Radiogaga over Canwest?

Broadcasting industry sources were bemused yesterday as it emerged that state-owned Television New Zealand has been looking at the radio assets of CanWest MediaWorks New Zealand.

The publicly listed company that owns TV3 and half the country’s commercial radio stations is up for grabs as controlling shareholders in Canada look to sell out of South Pacific assets.

TVNZ yesterday played down comments to the Business Herald from well-placed sources but acknowledged that it employed “an analyst” to look at the assets.

“We decided to look to see if the arrival of such a large media asset held any opportunities for us, but decided it did not,” said a TVNZ spokeswoman.

She said TVNZ never got to “first base” and had not sought a copy of the CanWest memorandum. But Business Herald sources insist that TVNZ’s interest is more than a passing fancy. TVNZ would never get Commerce Commission approval to buy TV3, but the commission would probably approve TVNZ taking radio assets.

Given TVNZ’s low debt, it could easily borrow $150 million-$200 million for CanWest Radio without begging for Government cash. But the nationalisation of half the country’s commercial radio stations by a troubled crown company like TVNZ would be verboten, surely. CanWest MediaWorks shares closed up 1c to $2.39.


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