TWO of TV's most popular families have disappeared from Ten after negotiations with 21st Century Fox to screen the new season of Modern Family and perennial favourite The Simpsons broke down on Monday.
Pulled from air immediately was a raft of familiar content from Fox, including stalwarts Mash and Malcolm in the Middle, Futurama, breakout hit This is Us and all Fox movies. The new season of This is Us is currently being broadcast in the US and is proving a huge hit, with lead actor Stirling K. Brown last month winning an Emmy for his performance in season one.
New seasons of The Simpsons, which aired on Ten for more than 25 years, and Modern Family were due to hit screens this month but they will not be returning to the network in what is a massive blow.
Fox is understood to have been unhappy with the amount Ten offered to pay for its content. A spokeswoman for Fox in LA said those close to the negotiations could not be reached for comment.
The breakdown in negotiations between Fox and Ten - which is in administration - comes with Australia's third most popular free-to-air network facing a shrinking content pool and an unclear future. 21st Century Fox is owned by News Corporation, publisher of The Daily Telegraph.
American broadcasting giant CBS has won creditor approval to take over Ten but the arrangement is not yet finalised.
The move to take the shows off Ten opens up the possibility that some of it most popular shows could pop up on rival networks. A spokeswoman for Nine said the network would not bid for the entire pool of Fox content, but may bid for one or two shows.
"We would not be doing an overall deal with Fox. We might want to buy one of their shows but our focus is very much on local content," the spokeswoman said.
Seven did not respond to a request for comment.
A spokesman for Ten confirmed the shows were pulled on Monday after Fox "verbally terminated" the deal until there was more clarity around the future ownership of the network.
"There's no Fox shows on Ten at this stage," the spokesman said.
While new seasons of This is Us, Modern Family and The Simpsons are already hitting screens in the US, Ten was not able to broadcast the latest episodes while negotiations were still ongoing.
Originally published as Simpsons, Modern Family axed from free-to-air TV