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National Transmission Network sale.

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Minister for Finance and Administration

The Hon John Fahey MP 

Minister for Communications, the Information Economy and the Arts

Senator the Hon Richard Alston 



National Transmission Network sale

We are pleased to announce that the National Transmission Network is to be sold to NTL Australia Pty Ltd for $650 million.

The National Transmission Network transmits radio and television programs around Australia for SBS and the ABC.

The contractual arrangements entered into with NTL guarantee the continuation of all existing services at current levels of service. In particular, the sale arrangements provide protection for community broadcasters, emergency service operators, self help transmission groups, as well as commercial broadcasters in remote areas who use the Network's facilities.

NTL has also committed itself to establish a $5m regional Communications Partnership with the Commonwealth, State and Territory Governments and the National Broadcasters to be used to provide and or upgrade network infrastructure in regional and rural Australia.

The Government set a number of objectives for the sale of the network apart from optimising sale proceeds.

Key objectives included the operational and financial capacity of the new owner to maintain existing services, particularly the range, reach and quality of services provided to all existing users of the services, as well as its capacity to develop these and new services in the future.

We are confident that NTL Australia has that capacity.

The parent company has a demonstrated track record in the provision of transmission services in the U.K., where it is the transmission service provider for the analogue commercial TV channels, accounting for three out of five national channels.

The company has extensiZve experience in digital technology, and is responsible for building and operating digital television networks for major UK digital television broadcasting operators. This experience will enable the new owner to make a significant contribution to the roll-out of digital broadcasting services across Australia.

The ABC and SBS will have commercially based relationships with the new owner. They will be directly funded from the budget for the cost of their transmission services, allowing them greater control over the transmission of their services and the planning and delivery of new services.

The Commonwealth's business advisers for the sale were Arthur Andersen Corporate Finance and the legal advisers were Gilbert and Tobin.

NTL will take over operations of the Network following completion of the sale, which is expected to be around the beginning of May 1999.

We thank the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts, Senator Ian Campbell, for his role in the successful passage of the sale legislation through the Parliament and the completion of the sale process.


19 March 1999

Media contacts: 

Andrew Maiden, Minister Fahey's office: 02 6277 7400 

Terry O'Connor, Minister Alston's office: 02 6277 7480 

Mark Heazlett, Office of Asset Sales and IT Outsourcing: 02 6208 9100