When TEN Becomes One

Yesterday Channel 10 made an abrupt announcement, that CEO Grant Blackley had been informed of the ‘immediate termination of his contract as the Chief Executive Officer of the Company’, after the unanimous decision of the board.

Now Lachlan Murdoch, son of the infamous media mogul Rupert, has been appointed as CEO, backed up by the support of major 10 stakeholder and leader of the 10 board  James Packer, son of the late Kerry, another major media mogul in Australia.

James Packer is the owner of a string of Casino’s, including Melbourne’s Crown.

In addition to his new Channel 10 powers Lachlan Murdoch is also a major player in FOXTel, Murdoch’s attempt to introduce American style cable tv to Australia.

Surely this atrocious example of media homogenisation in Australia should be banned by ACMA or at least result in some form of condemnation, but none appears to be forthcoming. So the Murdoch empire takes one more step towards holding a monopoly of Australian TV.

Perhaps we should also consider the fate of ONE – Channel 10’s 24 hour sports channel, which has been a massive pain in the behind for FOXTel’s many sports channels, because guess what? ONE’s free. FOXTel is definetly not.

The fate of Channel 10’s attempt at introducing more news and current affairs, in the form of George Negus hosting the 6 pm Project could be expected to be in the firing line, having not rated as highly as the bosses must have hoped.

But in addition to fears for the fate of programming, we should also be nervous at the growing influence of Murdoch’s News Corp and Packer’s media outlets growing greater power over more and more television stations and media outlets in Australia.

We are a reasonably small nation in terms of population, but we are still remarkably diverse and streamlining all our media outlets to reflect a one-sided perspective is dangerous. We already this in newspapers, here in Melbourne for example you would never expect to see a pro-green or pro-labor perspective in News Corp owned the Herald Sun, just as you would never expect favourable coverage of an anti-green or anti-immigration stance in Fairfax owned, The Age.

We have accepted these dangerous biases in the media, no longer even pretending to expect that we will be given unbiased coverage of events without an eye on the huge and powerful corporate owners. But do we really want to be increasing this bias? Do we want to be creating television channels that support certain newspapers?

And if you don’t care about news, then what about entertainment? Do you think that a person who is closely affiliated with FOX would want to see a FOX program fail? Do you think that they may push dramas made by that channel above local productions that run the risk of beating them? Or even programs from competeing drama networks?

The next few weeks and months will prove interesting – probably not in terms of media content on 10, but on how their programming changes, and whether this is the beginning of even more Murdoch influence over what we see, hear and read.

 

TRANSCRIPT OF TEN PRESS RELEASE
TEN STANDS DOWN CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER AND PROVIDES
GUIDANCE ON FIRST HALF 2011 FINANCIAL RESULTS

23 February 2011

Ten Network Holdings Limited’s (ASX:TEN) (‘Ten Holdings’ or ‘the Company’) Chairman Brian Long today
announced that the Board had given notice to Grant Blackley of the immediate termination of his contract as
the Chief Executive Officer of the Company.

At the unanimous request of the Board, Lachlan Murdoch has agreed to accept the role of acting Chief
Executive Officer during the period that an executive search is undertaken for a new Chief Executive Officer.

Mr Long said: “The Board continues to be responsible for all decisions regarding the strategic direction of the
Company, and has decided to conduct an immediate strategic review of the Company’s operations.”

“I would like to thank Grant Blackley for his contribution to the Company over some 20 years. The Board
would also like to thank Lachlan Murdoch for agreeing to accept an interim role at the Board’s request.”

The Directors also advised they have received preliminary information associated with the forecast financial
results for the half year period to 28 February 2011. On the basis of these forecasts, the Board anticipates
that Group earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) for the half year to 28
February 2011 will be approximately $103 million (1H FY10 – $117 million).  Television EBITDA is expected to
be $92 million (1H FY10 – $109 million) with revenue growth of 2 per cent on the prior six month period. Out-
of-Home EBITDA is expected to be $11 million (1H FY10 – $8 million).

The Directors expect to release the final half yearly results on 7 April 2011.

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