Struggling broadcaster Network Ten has unveiled plans for an 18 month “transformation” that has the potential to decimate staff numbers, slash production budgets and see a number of new media partnerships designed to significantly cut costs.
Officially called “Blue Horizon”, the “transformation and growth project” is set to slash millions from its bottomline and shore-up shareholder funding to the tune of $250 million. Last Thursday the network announced at $232 million loss and revealed it was being propped up by billionaire shareholders Bruce Gordon, Gina Rinehart and James Packer.
Ten currently has a $200 million loan facility with the Commonwealth Bank, however, that ends in December and if it fails to secure new funding it could fall into the hands of receivers.
The Australian Financial Review has even suggested that some shareholders hope Ten will go into receivership so it can be privatised and – if media ownership laws change – be bought out by News Corp and Foxtel.
Media reports have suggested that its news and current affairs programs will be hardest hit, with a possible merger with the News-owned Sky Network also mooted (News has a 15 per cent share in Ten).
It follows on from reports yesterday that the embattled network had even sounded out Seven’s Tim Worner as a potential new CEO.
Operation “Blue Horizon” is to be led by former McKinsey consultant Ivan Yu who has been appointed as the network’s new chief transformation officer.
Ten CEO Paul Anderson said no part of the business would be spared “from revenue and go right down to reducing our postage costs…. It’s extremely confronting,” he told The Australian.
Anderson is also praying for a massive reduction in license costs that have been proposed as part of the federal government’s new media reforms.
Although the exact outcomes of “Blue Horizon” are yet unclear, there had been media reports than any of the following are distinct possibilities:
• Local news bulletins to be folded into one national bulletin.
• A new news sharing arrangement with News’ Sky News.
• Journalists ordered to do stories with a “national appeal”.
• The salaries of celebrity chefs on MasterChef – Nigella, Heston Blumenthal etc – to be heavily curtailed.
• The axing of programs – The Biggest Loser and the costly Survivor. Fairfax Media has reported that The Project and Studio 10 are both being looked at.
• Sacking of network “personalities”.
• The possible loss of the highly successful Big Bash cricket series to arch rival Nine. Although, Ten could possibly enter into a joint role with Foxtel to keep the series.