O21 Television Acquired by SIS LIVE

Outside-broadcast contractor O21 Television has been bought by one of its main rivals in a move that marks a major consolidation of the OB market in the UK. Under an agreement with Gravity Media Group (GMG), SIS LIVE will acquire O21’s business and the majority of its assets in a multimillion-pound deal.

As part of the sale, all O21’s trucks, including its three HD vehicles, will be added to SIS LIVE’s fleet. The new owner will also take on “most” of O21’s staff as well as its existing contracts.

SIS LIVE was formed in 2008 when Satellite Information Services (SIS) bought the OB division of BBC Resources. The scanners and video trucks were integrated with SIS’s existing uplink-truck business to offer a complete range of broadcast-production services.

GMG took a similar route when it bought O21 from the ITV Group in 2006. The OB business was positioned alongside the integration and flyaway operations of Gearhouse Broadcast but continued as a standalone company.

While SIS LIVE has built on its contracts with the BBC and now also works for other broadcasters, including ITV, O21 has had a more difficult time. In more recent years, it built up its roster of clients, including Sky and the BBC.

SIS LIVE Managing Director David Meynell says the combination of the SIS and O21 fleets will be “a compelling offer for clients.”

Commercial Director Phil Aspden adds, “We are acquiring six large OB trucks, including three of the latest HD vehicles, which have a strong appeal to the wider broadcast market. We have also met with O21’s customers to talk about their contracts, and they are happy the business is going to an established company like ours.”

Says GMG Chief Executive John Newton, “We have invested heavily in O21 since 2006, and it is good to see that the business is equipped with the latest technology and has broadened its client base to include Sky, IMG, the BBC, and MNE, as well as maintaining its historically strong links with ITV.”

The consolidation of the UK OB market might not overly affect the way the other companies do business. Arena Television Managing Director Richard Yeowart maintains that it is likely to have no real impact on his company, noting that “fewer players may in fact mean a greater likelihood of the remaining companies’ being asked to tender for any given project.”

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