Hearst Corp. Finds Another Way to 'Survive,' Buys into Reality TV Company

Categories: Business, Media
The way of the future?
Hearst Corporation, the media empire that owns properties including the San Francisco Chronicle, has purchased the company behind such reality television hits as Survivor and The Apprentice.

The deal was announced today as a partnership between Hearst and Mark Burnett Productions. Hearst does not gain a stake in either show as a result of its part-ownership of the production company.

One of the shows Hearst will get a stake in is ABC's Shark Tank, a reality program in which entrepreneurs pitch their business ideas to "shark" investors. (Maybe some of those start-ups appearing in the corners of the old Chron building will show up to compete.)

The financial details of the deal are not public. But the transaction was done after rumors circulated that the struggling Chronicle plans to start charging for online content as a way to help the newspaper, ahem, survive.

Burnett, whose is responsible for a string of reality show successes, told The New York Times that he hopes to take advantage of Hearst's media platforms, including popular magazines such as Esquire and a cable channel, Lifetime, to purvey new projects.

Scott Sassa, Hearst's president of entertainment and syndication, told the Times that buying into Burnett's company is intended to get Hearst into the business of "nonfiction" programming, whether via television or Internet.

Perhaps this portends some kind of reality TV program that features various ailing metropolitan newspapers vying to survive in the new media world. Can we all say paywall?

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