IMG Eyes Bunim/Murray

Management giant wants a U.S. TV outlet


Sports, entertainment and media agency IMG is in preliminary talks to acquire Bunim/Murray Productions (BMP), according to sources with knowledge of negotiations.

IMG is interested in acquiring a U.S.-based TV outlet, which would play into the company’s recent acquisition strategy since financier Teddy Forstmann’s Forstmann Little acquired the privately held IMG for $750 million in 2004.

IMG and BMP declined comment.

Long-time independent BMP made its mark as a pioneer in reality programming, including the long-running MTV hits The Real World, Road Rules and the Paris Hilton-Nicole Richie vehicle The Simple Life. Currently, BMP plans to launch syndicated show Laugh Off at this week’s National Association of Television Program Executives (NATPE) convention (see story, p. 76).

In June 2006, IMG purchased London-based independent production company Tiger Aspect Productions. Reports out of England at press time also said IMG’s sports-rights and -production arm, TWI, was purchasing rival Octagon CSI and its portfolio of international sports rights.

BMP has been working to build up its value under Chief Executive Joey Carson, who was brought in by the company founders, John Murray and the late Mary Ellis Bunim, in 2001. Following Bunim’s 2004 death, the company stepped up its programming slate in the hope of one day merging or selling.