It is the board of Network Ten that is “culpable” for the network’s poor performance according to one media analyst who described the broadcaster as “chaotic”.
The comments, by media analyst Steve Allen, come after new Ten boss Hamish McLennan said the network would pursue an older audience: “I think we’ve skewed a bit too young,” McLennan told The Australian Financial Review.
But Allen said the comment does not “engender confidence”.
“The board said two years ago: ‘oh we have gone too old, lost our way and forgotten our core’.
“It is after all how James Packer and (chairman) Lachlan Murdoch (pictured) came into substantial shareholding in Ten, it was their critique and now they are flipping and flopping.
“Channel 10 has got a board who cannot give it direction. They have no idea and their track record over the last five years proves it.”
Former Ten head James Warburton, who joined the network 14 months ago, was “always on borrowed time”, according to Allen who said he was not surprised by Warburton’s ousting on Friday.
“When you are dealing with millionaires and billionaires the last thing they are going to do is blame themselves.
“But the problem is that this latest shift does nothing whatsoever to shift support and sentiment to Ten. It is chaotic.”
Allen said the board is “completely culpable” for Ten’s struggles of late, “after all it is the board that sets the strategy”.
McLennan told The Australian that “there’s a lot of money tied up with over-35s and over-40s” but Allen said it would take Ten a couple of years to win over the more mature demographics.
“Because they have destroyed, retired or stopped purchasing some of their older franchises,” Allen added.
Allen, the principal at Fusion Strategy, said the youth focus is also a better strategy for Ten as it differentiates the network from Nine and Seven: “This is not well thought out. It is just a shambles.”
McLennan has also indicated that he would be interesting in securing the cricket rights for Ten if the price is right.
“McLennan can’t do much about their inventory for the next year – their inventory is their inventory,” Allen said.
What the network does with programming will reveal how much support it has in the market, according to Allen who said fiddling with programming would be a mistake.
“If you want an audience to sell to your advertisers you have to treat them with a great deal of care and playing chequerboard with programming is not the way to get them to view.”
Ten declined to comment.