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BBC Studios Buys ‘The Newsreader’ Production Company Werner Film Productions

BBC Studios has acquired Werner Film Productions, the company behind Australian drama hit The Newsreader.

BBC Studios Productions Australia paid an undisclosed amount for Warner, marking the latest in several high-profile deals for the BBC’s commercial division. Last month, it paid £255M ($325M) for ITV’s share in their streamer, BritBox International.

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The Werner deal is billed as “a significant investment” in Australia’s production ecosystem, and comes soon after BBC Studios CEO Tom Fussell confirmed the BBC company was raising its debt facility to £600M as it seeks to invest in new business and double its size by 2027/28.

Werner is best known for making ABC drama series The Newsreader, which stars Anna Torv and Sam Reid as an embattled anchorwoman and an ambitious reporter who confront studio politics and their own issues during the 1980s, in association with eOne. The series has won multiple Logies and AACTA awards and season three is currently filming.

The BBC has bought both seasons of the show and played them on BBC Two and BBC iPlayer.

The Melbourne-based production company will continue to be led by company director Joanna Werner and Managing Director Stuart Menzies following the BBC Studios deal. Werner is also known for Netflix teen series Surviving Summer, whose first season in 2022 made the streamer’s top ten charts in over 42 countries and second in September 2023 hit the charts in 49 countries.

“I’m excited to welcome Werner Film Productions into the family,” Kylie Washington, General Manager and Creative Director of BBC Studios Productions Australia. “Australia has an incredibly vibrant creative community and is producing shows that resonate around the world so it’s a great time to invest further to support our local production industry.”

Australia has indeed hit a purple patch over recent years, with Colin From Accounts breaking out internationally, the likes of Roku, The CW and Lionsgate boarding TV projects from the country.

“Jo and Stuart are amongst the best in the business and have a great track record in producing smart, entertaining and engaging dramas that speak to international audiences while remaining quintessentially Aussie,” added Washington. “Their commitment to growing a sustainable industry and nurturing new talent aligns exactly with our values making them a fantastic addition to BBC Studios’ stable of independent labels.”

Jo Werner added: “We are absolutely thrilled to join the global powerhouse BBC Studios and the brilliant team at BBC Studios Productions Australia.  Working with BBC Studios will help us continue to tell Australian stories on a larger canvas for audiences here and around the world.”

Helion Partners, which previously helped sell Sydney-based Lingo Pictures to ITV Studios, advised Werner on the deal. Its founder, Tom Manwaring, said: “This is our second transaction in the Australian drama production market in a little over a year and highlights the attractions of the market for global producer distributors as they seek to gain access to the most internationally successful English language dramas.”

Today’s news comes after we revealed Australian unscripted company WTFN had put itself up for sale.

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