ALTHOUGH RECENT RUMOURS of Shane Warne's involvement in a new season of Top Gear Australia have been quashed, Channel Nine today confirmed that it has bought the Australian rights to the Top Gear TV shows.
The move from SBS to Channel Nine also brings control of the entire Top Gear brand in Australia to PBL Media, which owns both Channel Nine and - through PBL subsidiary ACP Magazines - Top Gear magazine.
"Top Gear is quite simply an outstanding television product, and linking the experience and expertise of BBC Worldwide with the proven capacity of the Nine Network is a great outcome," said Nine Chief Executive David Gyngell.
"We are genuinely excited to have Top Gear under the Nine banner and look forward to bringing it to an even wider audience."
Nine's purchase of Top Gear includes the rights to both the original UK show and the locally-produced Top Gear Australia program. However, it is unclear whether Nine will persist with a local spin-off given the lukewarm viewer response to the past two seasons of TGA.
SBS's reaction to Channel Nine's acquisition of the Top Gear TV shows was bitter.
"It is disappointing that a brand SBS has spent many years building is moving to a commercial network," SBS Managing Director Shaun Brown said today.
"SBS was the only Australian network brave enough to take on the irreverent series in 2005 and we have built it into successful event television with a dedicated audience.
"We are proud of what we have achieved with Top Gear.
"SBS, with its limited resources, lives with the knowledge that while it can discover and develop great programs and events, it cannot always defend them from the aggressive bids of well-heeled competitors."