Pearson Television, Pearson plc's television production business, has acquired the UK television producer, TalkBack Productions, for £62 million.
TalkBack Productions, which was founded in 1981, is one of the best known producers in the UK independent sector and has won a number of prestigious awards for its programmes. Current successes include Da Ali G Show, House Doctor, Shooting The Past, Smack The Pony and They Think It's All Over. Its principal customers are Channel Four and BBC2.
Pearson Television has some 160 television programmes in production in 35 countries around the world, producing over 6,000 hours of original programming every year. It sells from its library of some 17,500 hours of programming to over 100 territories. It owns one of the largest selections of game show formats in the world, is the largest producer of serial dramas and makes a wide range of entertainment programmes. It owns stakes in broadcasters in the UK, Hungary, Spain and Australia and in Uproar.com, one of the world's leading online entertainment sites.
Its largest single market is the UK, where it produces for all the major broadcasters, but its biggest customers are BBC1, ITV and Channel 5.
On 6 April, Pearson plc announced plans to merge Pearson Television with CLT-Ufa to create Europe's leading integrated television broadcast and content company. Pearson will take a 22% stake in the new company, which will be listed on the London Stock Exchange. It is expected that the merger will be completed later this summer.
Richard Eyre, Chief Executive of Pearson Television said: "TalkBack brings creative power that complements our existing production business while taking us in major new directions. They have a proven track record in finding and nurturing new talent and new genres.
"The acquisition will also enable TalkBack to grow faster, as it will now be able to supply talent, programming and formats to Pearson Television's worldwide production businesses, especially as we merge with our new European partners."
Pearson plc will finance the acquisition of TalkBack from within its existing bank facilities, with the debt incurred to finance the transaction transferring with Pearson Television on the completion of its merger with CLT-Ufa.
In the year ending 31 March 2000, TalkBack Productions made sales of some £32 million. Mel Smith and Grif Rhys Jones, founding partners of the company, will continue as directors, as will Managing Director, Peter Fincham.
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