Network Ten axes ‘Wake Up’ breakfast show, 150 other jobs

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AndWereLiveIt’s no secret that Network Ten has experienced difficulties in building and maintaining their audience in recent years.

Today, after days of reports and leaks, Ten CEO Hamish McLennan has announced that the network will be cutting 150 jobs, including the staff of breakfast show, Wake Up, as well as the networks early, morning, and late news bulletins. Non-presenter jobs, such as the jobs of editors, floor managers, camera operators, and technicians will also be cut.

News content will still be produced through each state’s own bureau, although the amount of content will be cut too, with Ten instead set to introduce a more cost-effective, centralised approach to news. Ten’s news boss, Peter Meakin, is reportedly disappointed by the news, himself being poached from Seven this year under the promise of being able to “build” Ten’s news line-up. Instead, he’s being forced to deliver a major cut to their services. Reports suggest he may choose to leave the network soon.

In a comment to Fairfax Media, Meakin prior to the announcement said that “clearly the board has had a look at it and this is the decision they’ve made and I guess we have to live it. Whether I disagree with the cuts is purely academic. I’m not briefed to run the company and have very little financial experience. Revenue is down the toilet and the ratings are less than auspicious.”

For Ten employees, the recent weeks have been excruciating, with no communication from management over the expected job losses, instead being forced to read rumours of the cuts through other media outlets. Although the network is no stranger to poor management.

Despite the success of Masterchef in 2009, Network Ten has had little or, debatably, no success in launching new franchises or programming in the new decade. Examples of such failings include reality programs like The Renovators, So You Think You Can Dance, and Being Lara Bingle, flagship programming such as Ten Breakfast and The Circle, as well as an equally sharp fall in ratings for previously popular shows, such as last years Masterchef season, Modern Family, The Biggest Loser, and even Ten News, just to name a small percentage of Ten’s failed programming line-up. This is despite a small improvement to prime-time programming in recent weeks, with Masterchef occasionally reaching a peak of 1 million viewers in the 2014 season, as well as a small improvement to The Project. Unfortunately, though, new launches, such as a completely rebuilt breakfast show, Wake Up, and morning show, Studio 10, were, and still are, unable to find an audience. In recent months Ten has even had trouble competing with the ABC, with ABC1 often out-performing Ten’s main channel.

Last year, a notable announcement from the network was the introduction of their new digital initiative, TenPlay, a streaming service similar to ABC iView. Again, though, this has had little to no effect on the networks poor ratings, despite being a major improvement to their digital offerings. The technology was there, the content was not.

So why is TechGeek covering this story? Mainly because it’s a sign of the times. As more young viewers leave their television sets sitting in dust, instead deciding to watch video content on their phones, tablets, or computers, it does make you wonder whether there is room for a third commercial television network anymore. With every new medium this same assumption has been parroted, but perhaps this time it does have truth in it. Television won’t die today, nor will it die in the next 20 years, maybe this is just the inevitable outcome of a generation switching off.

Network Ten have released this statement following the news:

Network Ten would like to thank the people involved with Wake Up and the TEN Early, Morning and Late News for their dedication, enthusiasm and hard work.

TEN Eyewitness News at 5pm will continue to be produced locally in each market. It will continue to have local news, sport and weather, local presenters, local reporters and local production staff, and will continue to bring the best of local, national and international news to viewers.

A voluntary redundancy program has commenced in Network Ten’s News and Operations department.

No further details are available at this stage.

Meanwhile Ten CEO Hamish McLennan sent the following email to staff today:

Today we are announcing a series of proposed changes at Network Ten.

As you all know, the television advertising market has been soft in recent years. At the same time, our ratings, revenue and earnings performance has been disappointing.

It is a tough period for Ten and we need to take some painful, but necessary, measures to restructure the business.

Our existing business model needs to change and we need to achieve greater efficiencies, tighter cost management and greater focus in terms of the parts of the company in which we invest.

A review has been conducted to establish a new structure for Ten and to better allocate our resources, with the aim of improving our performance.

As a result of that review, there are proposed changes to News programs, the structure of News and Operations, and other departments.

Unfortunately, it is proposed that Wake Up and the Early, Morning and Late News will cease production on Friday, May 23, 2014. Studio 10 is performing well and will continue as a vital part of our daytime schedule, which ranks number one.

Despite the commitment and enthusiasm of its staff, Wake Up has not resonated with enough viewers to make it a viable program.

It is very disappointing that these programs have not been more successful, but I would like to thank everyone involved with them for their focus, dedication and hard work.

We need to use our News resources – staff and content – more effectively, while continuing to provide high-quality local News services.

TEN Eyewitness News at 5pm, which is consistently number one in its timeslot, will continue to be produced locally in each market. It will continue to have local presenters, reporters, production staff and so on. It will continue to bring local news to viewers.

A process of consultation will begin tomorrow around a proposed voluntary redundancy program in News, Operations and Engineering. Consultation will take place in each station with the News Directors, Operations Managers and Human Resources staff to manage this process.

We are in a constant, fierce battle for the attention of viewers and we need to ensure we are investing in the areas that will deliver the greatest potential in terms of audiences and revenue.

The next few weeks will be a difficult and sad period, as colleagues leave the business.

Let me assure you the changes are not being undertaken lightly. No one is happy about them, but unfortunately they are necessary.

To the people affected by today’s announcement, please accept my thanks for your important contribution to Ten.