OAKTREE Capital and Apollo Global Management, come on down! For you two international hedge funds, the price - about $2.3 billion of expiring debt - is very right and you're now the proud owners of Channel Nine. Possessing an Australian television network is a rare privilege, and it will behove you to match the words and deeds of such prestigious former proprietors as Alan Bond.
First, a little history about the business you've acquired. Nine first hit the airwaves on September 16, 1956, and the first person to appear was not Kerri-Anne Kennerley but Bruce Gyngell, father of current chief executive David Gyngell. For much of the network's history, particularly during its glory days from the late 1970s to the early years of this century, it was owned and run by one Kerry Packer.
Mr Packer died on Boxing Day in 2005 and soon after his son, James, sold the network to CVC Asia Pacific, the private equity geniuses you've spent the past few years skinning. However, Kerry Packer continues to give to Nine, being the subject of recent mini-series Howzat! Kerry Packer's War, which drew a metropolitan audience of more than 2 million on consecutive Sunday nights.
A strange little government department called the ABC has the next Kerry Packer mini-series (Paper Giants: Magazine Wars), but there's no shortage of KP-inspired stories to tell, whether it's his gambling exploits or his kidney transplant, although there's no need to go near the one about the Costigan royal commission.
To further your understanding of your freshly deleveraged holding, here's a financial rundown of Nine's television assets:
PROFIT CENTRE —The Voice
Nine's first certified ratings blockbuster in way too long, The Voice dominated audience figures this year, with the finale of the reality singing show's first season watched by more than 3 million viewers. One of the coaches, Keith Urban, needs to be replaced for next year, but the main issue is to avoid overexposing this golden goose. Please ensure none of the following spinoffs come to fruition: The Voice All-Stars, The Teen Voice, The Voice Behind Bars, The Voice Versus The Block, or even Celebrity The Voice.
GROSS PROFIT —A Current Affair
During the past decade, this current affairs show, which holds down the 6.30 weeknight slot, has been engaged in a race to the bottom of the tabloid TV pit with Channel Seven's Today Tonight. Somehow, despite 27,412 stories on flawed speed cameras, it has lost. But only just.
FIXED ASSETS — Sam Newman's face
It hasn't moved in years.
DEPRECIATING ASSET — the Underbelly franchise
The first instalment of this true-crime series in 2008 was heavily dramatised but nonetheless a compulsive hit, yet subsequent annual efforts have increasingly struggled for relevance, dramatic worth and a legible title. The series does, however, satisfy the network's entire annual female nipple quota in just a few episodes.
LIABILITY —- Big Brother
Reviving this fallen former hit from another network was always going to be a risk, and despite promises of an enlightened new approach for 2012, the core of the show remains the unappealing same, with a fishbowl existence turning the contestants into vapid pawns that few people are excited about. The ratings have fallen to fewer than 1 million viewers and are only heading down. Oblivion beckons.
RECURRING CREDIT LINE — Richard Wilkins
The entertainment editor has been with the network for 25 years, and he is indicative of Nine's habit of accumulating personalities who contribute very little but hang in there with a decent tan and a warm smile. He's Nine's resident ''friend of the stars'', although you don't need a degree in astronomy to recognise their bewilderment come the annual nightmare that is otherwise known as the Academy Awards red-carpet show.
ANNUAL DEBIT CHARGE — Karl Stefanovic
Generally, once a year the co-host of the Today breakfast show - which, to be fair, has closed the gap on Channel Seven's Sunrise - does something inexplicably nuts. Just Google his name and ''Dalai Lama'', ''drunk'' or ''long stabby thing'' for further clarification.
ROTATING ASSET —The Big Bang Theory
When the schedule has a hole, just repeat this show until it's filled.