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Planet 24 Sold To Carlton 11/3/99
11 Mar 1999 :
Planet 24, the television production company owned by Bob Geldof, which produces the Big Breakfast Show for Channel 4 and was behind the shelved attempt to set up Atomic TV in Ireland, has been sold in a deal thought to be worth around £15 million to the London-based group Carlton Communications plc which owns several ITV franchises.

Mr Geldof will share proceeds with his two partners at Planet 24, Lord Waheed Alli and Mr Charlie Parsons. Geldof is world famous as a former singer with The Boomtown Rats and as organiser of the Live Aid concerts in the mid eighties. Waheed Ali became the youngest life peer earlier this year and is one of Britain's most successful entrepreneurs. He is deeply involved in Labour politics and worked for Labour on the last election campaign specific responsibility to attract the young vote. Parsons developed his career through Channel 4's award winning youth magazine programme Network 7 and on the Passengers series. He now runs a corporate media consultancy. Each stands to make Stg.£5 million from the sale which has been rumoured since September last year.

Planet 24's flagship Big Breakfast programme came on air six years ago when it's proposal beat 31 other shortlisted contenders and was an instant hit with peak ratings of 1.5 million, although the audience has halved since then with stiff competition but has rallied since. Other shows produced by the company include The Word and the music show Hotel Babylon. Planet 24 made profits after tax of Stg£1.54 million on a turnover of Stg£17 million and employs 200 people last year. The acquisition is the second big deal of 1999 for Carlton, which paid £91 million for the ITC television company and film library in January.

The proposal for the setting up of Atomic TV, a twenty four hour music video cable service with six hours of programming repeated four time within a twenty four hour period to be launched in Ireland, was postponed in August of last year. Planet 24 planned to bypass Irelands licensing laws by broadcasting Atomic TV via cable, MMDS and satellite, effectively securing what amounted to a national television licence but bypassing restrictions such as the editorial and financial conditions applied to RTE and TV3.

But the plan was postponed when overseas investors became nervous of the legal consequences after the IRTC came out against the station even though they had no legal power to stop it and it was popular with politicans. Also investors feared extra expense and want to wait until they know who will buy Cablelink (which is critical to the success of the station). A licensing application is no longer before Irish authorities and chief executive Martin Goswami said at the time that they would wait until they found out who bought Cablelink before considering reapplication

MMM 11/03/99



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