MGM buys out Mark Burnett, names him as president of TV & Digital

MUMBAI: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc. (MGM) is acquiring full control of United Artists Media Group (UAMG), in which reality TV producer Mark Burnett owned a 23 per cent interest with his wife Roma Downey.


Additionally, Burnett has been named president of MGM Television and Digital Group.


Burnett, who signed a five-year contract, will report directly to MGM CEO Gary Barber. Burnett’s new appointment will occur simultaneously with the closing of MGM’s acquisition of the remaining 45 per cent of Hearst’s, Burnett’s and Downey’s interests in UAMG, which will be absorbed under the MGM Television Group umbrella.


“Mark Burnett is one of the most successful producers in television and a highly sought-after executive in content creation. His leadership is the next step in our never-ending quest to expand and grow our television and digital businesses,” said Barber. “Combining all of our TV content efforts under the purview of this unparalleled chief is incredibly exciting. Additionally, we believe this synergistic transaction will be very accretive to MGM.”


Burnett and Downey will exchange their 23 per cent interest in UAMG for 1,337,360 shares of MGM stock valued at $90 per share. Hearst will receive $113.5 million in cash for their 22 per cent interest. This transaction will enable the complete integration of UAMG’s and MGM’s television businesses and the consolidation of their operations. The transaction is expected to close at the beginning of 2016 and was valued based upon the original deal parameters established when MGM acquired the initial 55 per cent of UAMG in 2014, less distributions.  The planned OTT channel will remain a separate entity controlled by its investors, Downey, Burnett, Hearst and MGM.


“Joining MGM under the incredible leadership of Gary Barber is an exciting new chapter of my television career,” said Burnett. “Demand for quality content is stronger than ever and the opportunities to grow our pipeline and develop projects from the wealth of Intellectual Property in the MGM and United Artists libraries are enormous. There is no better time to be creating premium content for distribution across multiple platforms. "


Downey added, “We have entered into an era where faith-based and family programming is experiencing a creative renaissance. I am so excited and grateful to head up the team at LightWorkers Media under MGM. This is an enthusiastic marketplace that inspires us every day to create and curate new, thoughtful and dynamic content for all screens in the distribution landscape.”


In 2016, MGM Television will now have numerous unscripted and scripted television shows airing on network and cable or in production including: The Voice (NBC); Survivor (CBS); Shark Tank (ABC); Beyond the Tank (ABC); Celebrity Apprentice (NBC);Fargo (FX); Vikings (History); Teen Wolf (MTV);  500 Questions (ABC); The People’s Choice Awards (CBS); Lucha Underground (El Rey Network) and America’s Greatest Makers (INTEL/Turner).


As part of the new structure, Downey will serve as president of LightWorkers Media, which will be the faith and family division of MGM Television, and will report to Burnett.  Downey will also serve as the chief content officer for the planned OTT channel. 


Additionally, Chris Ottinger has been promoted to president of worldwide television distribution & acquisitions for MGM, reporting directly to Barber. MGM president of television development & production Steve Stark will continue to oversee all scripted content and will report directly to Burnett in an expanded role.


MGM president of domestic television distribution John Bryan will continue in his role overseeing domestic distribution. Roma Khanna has stepped down from her position as head of television and digital. “Roma has done a terrific job at MGM. We are thankful for her efforts in helping grow MGM and wish her much success in her future endeavours,” said Barber.

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