The new management at the Ten Network, led by acting CEO Lachlan Murdoch, have this week made their move towards cutting costs as it continues to dismantle some of the strategies laid down by the previous management and re-establish the network’s low-cost business model.
The network is looking to cut around 60 staff through voluntary redundancies – including 22 editorial positions – in what Murdoch told staff in an internal email is “a necessary but inevitably painful restructure”. If the required number of voluntary redundancies are not met then the network may look at forced redundancies.
Another 40 non-contract positions have reportedly already been cut as the network shuts down its publicity and marketing arms in Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth and abolishes its separate sales teams for Ten and digital channels One and Eleven.
Ten is also believed to be reviewing its program and on-air presenting line-up, with particular attention to its news and current affairs portfolio, as it looks to rein in some of the costs incurred by the recent investment in current affairs program 6.30 With George Negus and the launch of additional news bulletins.
The advent of digital channel Eleven is also said to have put financial pressures on the business.
High-profile names such as George Negus and Sandra Sully are believed to be safe, for now.
Late night stalwart Sports Tonight, which began back in 1993, is believed to have been axed as the network walks away from its role as joint broadcaster of AFL after ten years. The network is also expected to allow some of its other sporting contracts to lapse, affecting coverage of sports such as basketball and netball, as high-definition channel One is strategically moving away from being a purely sports-oriented format.
But so far the only program to have been formally announced as being cancelled is a somewhat surprising one – Video Hits, currently hosted by Dylan Lewis and Faustina Agolley (pictured).
The weekend music program, which debuted on TEN10 Sydney in February 1987 (Melbourne’s ATV10 didn’t take up the program until almost a year later), is set to wind up with a retrospective of its marathon run on Saturday, 6 August.
In a press release issued today, programming chief David Mott acknowledged the contribution and longevity of the program:
"Video Hits' contribution to the network and the music industry over the past 24 years has been outstanding. Music and how people listen to it, watch it and enjoy it has changed dramatically in last few years and now is the perfect time for the institution that is Video Hits to sign off. The show will always hold a special place in Ten's history.”
Video Hits began purely as a compilation of music video clips at a time when a generational change was occurring in television, as studio productions like Countdown and Sounds were making way for dedicated music clip programs – with Rage, MTV, Night Shift and Video Hits all launching during 1987.
Video Hits later expanded its format to include interviews and live performances. The show has helped establish the careers of various Australian artists, including Missy Higgins, Angus and Julia Stone and Art Vs Science.
The cancellation of Video Hits now leaves ABC1’s Rage as the only significant program on free-to-air television dedicated to music – and it is largely buried in an overnight timeslot – and with few variety programs on free-to-air television there are even fewer TV opportunities for the promotion of Australian recording artists and music industry in general.
Ten’s newly-appointed CEO, former Seven Network executive James Warburton, takes over the reigns from Murdoch in January.