South African media company African Media Entertainment (AME), has sold its film entertainment subsidiary Moonlighting Filmmakers, in an effort to reduce its heavy debt burden.

Moonlighting Filmmakers, a wholly-owned subsidiary of AME Commercial Filmmakers, was sold to Philip John Key, the subsidiary's original owner and CEO, for $1m (R10.2m) in cash, to be paid in stages..

AME was one of the only SA media companies to directly invest in feature films, putting up the finance for A Reasonable Man with Nigel Hawthorne and local comedy Inside Out.

Moonlighting is the country's leading production services company, having facilitated over 600 commercials as well as Michael Mann's Ali in Mozambique, and more recently Beyond Borders with Angelina Jolie, and The Young Black Stallion for Disney which were both shot in Namibia.

Newly appointed AME CEO Kevin Coyle said yesterday the disposal of Moonlighting would enable AME to reduce its debt over time. AME said outstanding sale proceeds of $760,000 (R7.7m) would be paid to Nedbank.

Coyle said all AME businesses were profitable and it was focusing on reducing its debt commitments. AME announced the withdrawal of a cautionary notice issued in January. The disposal of Moonlighting is subject to shareholder approval.

Despite offsetting some of its debt, beleaguered AME's share price was unchanged yesterday at 1c. It seems doubtful whether the company will return to filmmaking in the near future - preferring to stick to interests in radio and boxing.