MGM buys stake in reality TV company

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Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer became a reality TV giant on Monday.

MGM, a 90-year-old movie studio, said it had acquired a majority stake in Mr Mark Burnett's production company, One Three Media, which holds rights to reality hits such as The Voice, Survivor, The Apprentice and Shark Tank.

Mr Burnett will run the operation as chief executive of a new MGM unit called United Artists Media Group.

The new division will also house a smaller production company that MGM also bought: LightWorkers Media, which focuses on religious-themed programming such as The Bible, a recent History Channel miniseries.

Ms Roma Downey, a co-owner of LightWorkers with Mr Burnett, who is her husband, will run the unit.

Financial terms were not disclosed.

The Hearst Corp will continue to own a minority stake in the One Three Media and LightWorkers businesses.

"Mark and Roma are without a doubt the most successful and dominant players in unscripted television and faith-based content, and we are excited to be distributing United Artists Media Group content worldwide," Mr Gary Barber, MGM's chairman and chief executive, said in a statement.

He also announced the creation of a LightWorkers on-demand Internet channel.

Mr Burnett said in a statement: "We look forward to growing our television, film and digital business while also creating a whole new platform."

MGM very nearly capsized - more than once - in the 2000s, as the collapse of the DVD market and a revolving set of owners left the company choking on US$4 billion in debt.

A bankruptcy and new managers, most notably Mr Barber, have since turned the operation around, with a new scripted television division contributing significantly.

MGM's recent television efforts include Vikings; the History Channel hit Teen Wolf, a solid performer for MTV; and the critically acclaimed Fargo on FX.

Among the shows in the works from Mr Burnett and Ms Downey: A.D., a biblical miniseries for NBC; The Dovekeepers miniseries for CBS; and On The Menu, a cooking show for TNT.

They are also helping to produce a remake of Ben-Hur in partnership with MGM and Paramount Pictures.

 
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