James Warburton sacked by Ten board

Warburton sacked by Ten

James Warburton has become the second Ten Network CEO in a row to be sacked by the company’s board.

Warburton will be replaced by adman Hamish McLennan, while Russel Howcroft will be acting CEO until March.

McLennan, is currently executive VP, Office of the chairman, News Corporation, and chairman of News Limited’s REA Group. He previously worked for Y&R Brands in Australia and the US.

Warburton’s sacking came after little more than a year in the role. His predecessor Grant Blackley was also fired.

His departure comes as the country’s third commercial network struggles with record low ratings. It faces being beaten by the ABC for share over the ratings week.

The announcement:

Ten Network Holdings Limited (ASX: TEN) (“TEN” or “the Company”) today announced that the Board had given notice of termination to Mr James Warburton. He will no longer be performing the role of Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director of the Company, effective immediately.

TEN Chairman, Mr Lachlan Murdoch, said: “The Board would like to thank James Warburton for his hard work and contribution during what has been a difficult period for the Company and for the broader media sector. He steps down with TEN’s best wishes.”

TEN today also announced that the Board has appointed Mr Hamish McLennan as Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director of the Company.

Mr Murdoch said: “The Board is delighted to have been able to attract a world class CEO with a strong track record to lead TEN.”

Mr McLennan said: “TEN is a media business with a strong balance sheet and excellent staff. I look forward to leading TEN through a period of creative renewal and financial growth.”

Mr McLennan will remain the Non-Executive Chairman of REA Group (ASX: REA).

Mr Russel Howcroft, Executive General Manager, Network Ten, will act as CEO until Mr McLennan joins TEN on 18 March, 2013.

Source: Ten Network press release


  1. Wayne
    22 Feb 13
    7:52 pm

  2. Strewth, how fucked are Ten…..

  3. Fabfour
    22 Feb 13
    7:55 pm

  4. company man for Lachlan

  5. Craig
    22 Feb 13
    8:04 pm

  6. They need to look at a few board members if their serious – Rinehart & Murdoch were born into wealth and have no idea how to run a media business. ASIC should look into weather Rinehart exercises her duties competently or whether she makes decisions for personal purposes to the detriment of other shareholders.

  7. Backlash
    22 Feb 13
    8:05 pm

  8. The Master Chef knifes have come out.

  9. Nicky
    22 Feb 13
    8:10 pm

  10. Wow! Russel as interim CEO. Congrats. Personally, I think TEN needs to stop competing on every level with the other channels and instead concentrate on delivering interesting, entertaining and well-produced programs. Then their fortunes will turn around.

  11. Adrian
    22 Feb 13
    8:18 pm

  12. Not sure they gave him the time to fix it? His experience on both sides is probably unrivaled. It is what it is. Best of luck James.

  13. JD
    22 Feb 13
    8:21 pm

  14. Talk about not giving a bloke a chance. Shame on you Lachlan you just made TEN take another two steps backwards.

  15. Ex ten
    22 Feb 13
    8:35 pm

  16. Channel Ten board are cowboys. Yes Lachlan that’s you.

    Who would put their hand up for this job. Only if you won’t a quick holiday and payout.

  17. Glenn Mabbott
    22 Feb 13
    8:36 pm

  18. A Gruen transfer of responsibility to Russell will make interesting viewing.
    As for the shareholders and the offer to advertisers, what a B grade movie we are watching.

  19. Cam Reed
    22 Feb 13
    8:45 pm

  20. So the CEO job has gone to someone in the News Corp family hey, watch more of the Sport on TEN/ONE disappear and turn up on Foxtel, unless of course like Sky did with Prime in New Zealand, Foxtel ends up being owners of TEN. Sure Government rules would have to change, however a looming Federal election and TEN under performing, could see things change to keep 3 Free To Air networks.

  21. bonzo
    22 Feb 13
    8:50 pm

  22. A very sad day not just for TV broadcasting in Australia but the whole world.

  23. geoff
    22 Feb 13
    8:51 pm

  24. At what point does LM step up and take some responsibility?

  25. Elle
    22 Feb 13
    8:52 pm

  26. As someone who worked with James at Ten, I’m delighted by today’s news. I knew there was a problem the moment it became clear he didn’t understand his employment contract with 7.It didn’t exactly bode well for his attention to detail or his ability to wrap his head around basic business concepts.

    During his time at Ten, he oversaw the departure of many indviduals who had contributed to Ten’s success over the years. He was a big mouth and a programming wanna be. The truth is that Ten’s biggest programming failures of the last 12 months were commissioned by James: The Shire, Being Lara Bingle, Everybody Dance Now, MasterChef Professionals were all developed at his say so. Anyone who attended the 2012 programming launch at the Sydney Theatre Company can attest to the fact that none of these programs were floated by Motty to programming buyers.

    Now maybe his proteges will get the same treatment. Neil Shoebridge and Tony McMaster have to be next…

  27. Mike Morrison Junior
    22 Feb 13
    9:13 pm

  28. See, naysayers, I was right. No trust

  29. Ex-Y&R staffer
    22 Feb 13
    9:31 pm

  30. Be afraid Channel 10 staff, be very afraid…

    With Hamish McLennan’s renowned people skills, the only way is up.:p

  31. Stephen Byrne
    22 Feb 13
    9:31 pm

  32. I could never understand why Warburton was hired in the first place. He was sales guy at 7. Russell knows even less about running a television station and what qualifies McLennan, except for his relationship to the Murdoch’s. Is this really going to change much with Ten’s shadow.

  33. Stephen Byrne
    22 Feb 13
    9:37 pm

  34. O so McLennan is Russell’s old boss at Y&RBrands. Another ad guy who obviously understands television and where it’s headed.

  35. SPD
    22 Feb 13
    9:40 pm

  36. Replacing a proven TV exec after only slightly longer than the time period they waited for him to join from Seven, with an interim CEO who’s an adman, to be followed by another adman…..wtf?

    Might be more than a few advertisers pulling their remaining budgets from Ten on Monday……

    Seven, Nine, MCN , Youtube & even SBS will be licking their lips at this news.

  37. rg
    22 Feb 13
    9:45 pm

  38. Hellooo! How about hiring someone with TV experience………how about Lachlan stops putting his hand up people’s backs? Your dad understands TV, you don’t.

  39. Nathan
    22 Feb 13
    9:58 pm

  40. Murdoch just covering his own, everything he has ever touched has turned to lead. Has screwed Warburton to cover the misgivings of his time in charge. Don’t worry Lachie, Daddy will look after your ineptitude once again.

  41. JT
    22 Feb 13
    9:58 pm

  42. And what was that other “cracking” show he commissioned…I Will (WONT!) Survive.

    What a forgettable legacy.

    Hamish and Russell just may give it the fresh injection it needs, and deserves.

  43. Obie
    22 Feb 13
    10:00 pm

  44. Keeps getting uglier. Lachlan won’t be satisfied until News have taken over the Australian media. Whose job next? Anyone at DMG feeling comfortable right now?!
    Meanwhile we keep hearing of further job cuts within News Ltd.

    Thank god for Aunty. Minus Russel Howcroft now I hope.

  45. Jack B. Nimble
    22 Feb 13
    10:10 pm

  46. I’d love to see Sky put ‘free to air’ on one of Ten’s digital channels, that would really give it a MUCH higher profile & exposure and let it go head-to-head with ABC News 24, as well as becoming a unique part of the Ten portfolio.

  47. Anonymous
    22 Feb 13
    10:18 pm

  48. Unfortunately he was never up to the task and his lack of management skills and the attitude that he is better than everyone else makes it impossible to be a successful CEO. The smart money was on an Easter dismissal. At least he is used to “gardening” leave!

  49. Richard Dirth
    22 Feb 13
    10:22 pm

  50. @Elle – you’re absolutely right. As a new shareholder in TEN, buying at 29 cents, this is great news. Today TEN announced it had successfully sold off its UK outdoor business, fired a second-rate manager with hopeless programming skills, and brought in someone with the necessary relationships inside News Corp’s broadcasting operations. Watch the TEN share price beat the market on Monday. Most of you in this forum have NFI.

  51. Nathan
    22 Feb 13
    10:25 pm

  52. Screwed, another Murdoch triumph. Don’t worry Lachie, daddy has your back and bank account. Screw James to clear your own slate, running out of people to blame.

  53. What a joke
    22 Feb 13
    10:46 pm

  54. Is this seriously how business is done in Australia? Oh whoops yes it is. The Obieds of media are still in play…

  55. Nathan
    22 Feb 13
    11:01 pm

  56. Hey, Anonymous, grow some balls you weak individual. Don’t bag someone if you won’t put your name to it. Your thoughts totally irrelevant and weakened by a lack of spine.

  57. No sympathy
    22 Feb 13
    11:05 pm

  58. Bahahaha!

  59. Bored with the board
    22 Feb 13
    11:15 pm

  60. What a joke, about time Lachlan took responsibility for his own appalling programing decisions & resigned from the board…did anything he greenlighted actually rate…I don’t think so…and don’t mention the beefing up of the news team…only to end in massive redundancies! Glad I sold my shares!

  61. Witch
    22 Feb 13
    11:35 pm

  62. Which island do you think Warbs and Chenoweth are on this week?

  63. Reality Check Said.
    22 Feb 13
    11:36 pm

  64. Let’s face it, JW was made to look good at Seven by DL.
    Anyone with a pulse could have sold that stable of shows.

    As for his efforts at Ten, blunder after blunder after blunder – misguided senior staff appointments and content disasters. His tenure at Ten has been questioned by the industry for months.

    As for HMc..oh dear God. (Not really a surprise though, as he is very close with Lachlan’s Dad).
    A few of us tipped HMc’s return to Australia was to run Ten – with JW a convenient high profile short term sacrificial lamb. Seems the chess game is playing out.

    And something to ponder…given RH’s links with HMc, I wonder if he knew all along (?) – the coincidence is just to

  65. Timross
    22 Feb 13
    11:54 pm

  66. I’d rather watch a dog lick its arse than tune into Ten of late. Don’t see that changing anytime soon. FTA may realise at some point that’s its customers are also consumers, not simply media agencies.

  67. Not Going to Be Hired By News Soon
    23 Feb 13
    2:24 am

  68. If this is all as it appears. What a spoiled twat is Lachlan. He comes across as the real bully in the kiddie park. Lets his ego control the show. When his dumb ideas stuff up he fires someone else, coz he can. He reminds me of the spoilt kid in TED, wanting the bear.

    Note to self, don’t take a job with Lachlan, coz if you do great, it was him, and if you do bad (based on his direction) you get screwed.

    Lachlan are you listening ?

  69. Wont work for Murdoch
    23 Feb 13
    3:23 am

  70. Lachlan M, seems to be the classic Daddy’s boy. Has never really done anything of note compared to his family. And i could list sister, Grand Mother, father and probably more who are real legends.

    He just looks like a rich prat. He gets in with dumb ideas, they stuff up. He axe murders the people that did his bidding.

    He’s all a bit too Louis the 14th for me.

    I can only suggest he man up and admit he was the dick behind these dumb ideas, instead of firing the people he put in.

    HAmish, aka new bunny. Do you have your target painted on ?

    Who gets to fire the Brat ?

  71. George Williams
    23 Feb 13
    6:06 am

  72. So sorry Ten Staff and Shareholders. The fact that Lachlan entered the building and got rid of all the professional Broadcast Talent and Management starting with the Chairman and CEO shows his pure unadulterated lack of insight and ability.

    Warburton and his merry men were and are failures. Lachlan should also remember his year at CEO which was instrumental in the slide and loss of value to all.

    Now Rupert has to clean the mess up again by appointing McLennan – a loyal soldier. Lachlan’s at least consistent – OneTel & TenTel.

    Shame on the Board and Regulator and pity the viewer, shareholders and loyal talented staff.

  73. Kerry S Tokes
    23 Feb 13
    7:01 am

  74. Look what happens when you are a little too eager to get a promotion

  75. Mr X
    23 Feb 13
    7:36 am

  76. Superleague. OneTel. MySpace. Channel Ten.
    Does anybody see a pattern here? And it has nothing to do with James Warburton.

  77. TC
    23 Feb 13
    8:00 am

  78. @Elle & Richard – 100% agree..

  79. nick
    23 Feb 13
    8:40 am

  80. Richard – did you really buy TEN shares at 29c each?

    I reckon you were ripped off. Any chance you can ask for a refund?

    I just swapped my TEN shares for Ansett shares. My accountant reckons it was an excellent deal.

  81. Poor Ten
    23 Feb 13
    9:39 am

  82. So sorry Ten Staff and Shareholders. The fact that Lachlan entered the building and got rid of all the professional Broadcast Talent and Management starting with the Chairman and CEO shows his pure unadulterated lack of insight and ability.

    Warburton and his merry men were and are failures. Lachlan should also remember his year at CEO which was instrumental in the slide and loss of value to all.

    Now Rupert has to clean the mess up again by appointing McLennan – a loyal soldier. Lachlan’s at least consistent – OneTel & TenTel.

    Shame on the Board and Regulator and pity the viewer, shareholders and loyal talented staff.

  83. Tim
    23 Feb 13
    9:44 am

  84. Ha! So many armchair CEO commentators dishing out the advice, thinking they know best.

    I really hope Hamish does well.

    The production industry need TEN to be successful. The whole TV industry needs TEN to be successful. The media industry needs TEN to be successful. The thousands of people who work for TEN need it to be successful.

    But most importantly the Australian public deserve a top quality TEN.

    Good luck Hamish.

  85. Rob
    23 Feb 13
    10:23 am

  86. If News Corp were to buy Ten and align it with Foxtel the ACCC would go ape shit. But if Illyria was to gain further control of Ten and put a News Corp soldier in the top job then would that be ok? Maybe they could do an animation series with the OneTel “Dude” to sell it to Conroy? This stinks of the Optus Vision Foxtel “alliance” all served up with a healthy sprinkle of Billion ego..

  87. Richard Dirth
    23 Feb 13
    11:13 am

  88. @ nick – yes I did. I also bought News Corp at $12.70. When in distress buy, buy, buy. Prior to Friday, every possible negative outcome had been factored into TEN. Even if Hamish manages a modest improvement in TEN, and gets it back to a competitive third place, I expect a high double digit improvement in the price. Oh and by the way, I’d rather have Ansett shares than a stake in QANTAS, so you’re accountant might be onto something.

  89. Observer
    23 Feb 13
    11:17 am

  90. Well……the imposter has been found out. Only one more imposter to go.
    Unfurtunately, unless TEN’s focus is on the viewer & NOT the advertiser, they will continue to fail.
    Its a great script playing out for a new reality show!
    Don’t pity James W…..he has more cash that he knows waht to do with. Only his ego is bruised. Big bruise though…..

  91. Rumpelstiltskin
    23 Feb 13
    12:22 pm

  92. @ Elle, you are spot on.

  93. Pete
    23 Feb 13
    1:42 pm

  94. @ nick, too funny. Maybe @ Richard could also get some of those Vodafone Australia shares

  95. Humanity
    23 Feb 13
    3:03 pm

  96. If we stop for a moment – and respecting the need for shareholder returns which LM and JW have destroyed let’s consider a few facts:

    1. Many hard working and talented Executives have been sacked,taken retrenchment packages or early retirement due to uninformed decisions by two people,

    2. The Industry and Ten has lost many Leaders and Mentors – what does the new and ambitious group look for and up to ?

    3. The natural state of arrogance drives both Seven and Nine as they maximise a weak Ten which destroys investment and creativity in market,

    4. Production budgets are lost, eliminated or reduced affecting the flow of the media Eco-system.

    Lachlan can run back to Dad, James can sit on an island and the other 200 poor souls can rebuild while the industry ponders it’s disrupted future.

    Let’s think of a few others ahead of yourself.



  97. The Bold & The Brainless
    23 Feb 13
    5:24 pm

  98. I’m buying TEN shares on Monday too.

  99. Nath
    23 Feb 13
    6:50 pm

  100. When was Everybody Dance Now, I WIll Survive, and The Shire etc commissioned? Surely this was before James started in January?

    In his previous roles, James had a hell of a lot of success and has accomplished much in his career.

    We’ve all experienced failure at some point. Even those who’ve accomplished great things in their career. So I wonder if people should remember that before expressing such vitriol on here.

  101. BenM
    23 Feb 13
    9:42 pm

  102. Not a move I was really expending. Not shocking I guess.

  103. Excuse me
    23 Feb 13
    11:00 pm

  104. Never has there been a more introspective, ego driven industry in a market that barely registers internationally.
    The real casualties in this whole debarcle are the unnamed individuals whose careers have been ruined and who (unlike James) face a very uncertain financial future.

  105. Dan
    24 Feb 13
    1:39 am

  106. Once more the sales guys think they run showbusiness, but prove they only know about the business and none of the show. It’s no good doing deals if there’s no decent content or audience.

  107. The Numbers Guy
    24 Feb 13
    12:59 pm

  108. Dan, forget not knowing about show business, the results suggest they haven’t got a handle on basic business either.

    Hiring a succession of very expensive execs, then paying them out within a year is a disaster financially. As if revenue wasn’t hard enough to get, the last thing you want to do is throw $$$ away. Amazing to watch, but I wouldn’t like to be in there and feel sorry for the juniors who have been flicked in favour of the next high profile hire.

    Let’s hope the HR team are a bit less frantic in the next few months (but I somehow doubt it).

  109. Tim
    24 Feb 13
    3:26 pm

  110. @Dan It’s not called commercial television for nothing.

  111. Max
    25 Feb 13
    9:37 am

  112. Seems very unfair on James – in my opinion he hasn’t been long enough in the role to be assessed. 3 to 5 years yes – not 12 months where many of the programming decisions for 2012 had already been made prior to his arrival

  113. Nigel
    25 Feb 13
    9:50 am

  114. A few folk at 7 will have a chuckle!

  115. Steve
    25 Feb 13
    10:24 am

  116. Will another media business touch Warbo or Chenoworth now? Given the rabble that is APN, maybe they will hire James W?

  117. Hmmmm!
    25 Feb 13
    11:21 am


  119. Ring Ring
    25 Feb 13
    11:51 am

  120. I can hear the phone call to Brian Walsh’s mobile this week.

    “Hello Mr Walsh, Lachlan needs some help with programming and would just like to know where to back up the truck full of cash.”

  121. JG
    25 Feb 13
    12:11 pm

  122. Witch, I can guess which island they are on … Fantasy Island.

  123. bob
    25 Feb 13
    12:32 pm

  124. The Ten board is so full of big names it has more celebrity than most of its output, save perhaps the Oscar coverage on tonight news, and they can’t make a decision and stick to it. A fly on the wall in those board meetings would make better TV than their entire production department.

  125. been there done that
    27 Feb 13
    5:54 am

  126. I worked at 10 for decades, most of which we never beat the ABC in ratings and there was no SBS and subscription TV and digital channels were light years away.During that time we had 3 sets of receiver managers, maybe 4 and Ceo’s revolved as regularly as programs got cancelled. Not 1 of them from memory lasted long enough to even remotely get near long service leave!!!. The industry needs a competitive 10 otherwise you have 2 dominant players free to air, who control the roost, and those 2 unushamedly exploit the market as anyone would do, when your competition is on it’s knees. Maybe it’s me BUT 10’s demise is co-incidentally or significantly linked to the loss of AFL rights at the end of the 2011 season. The reveneue written albeit with significant rights fees and production costs to counter that gave them a position to sell for clients who wanted in to be associated with the sport and it’s massive ratings numbers. Also the opportunity to place a promo seen by many hundreds of 000’s of viewers for a new or existing program was powerful. 10 also lost the Melbourne cup carnival it held for 25 years plus motor racing all sports that attracted new incremental revenue. Despite the brunt of endless jokes about the company you worked at, you went to work and gave your personal best as i used to say to the staff ” sphere of influence”. They could not change the destiny up the line. The sad part is reading commentary on this subject from everyone who purports to be a genius, is that the rank and file staff get the shove when things turn rotten, after mismanagement at the top, so please feel for those staff who have to live thru it all and maybe/ possibly could lose their job. The outgoing CEO won’t have to work for a while on his payout but the staff have to pick up the pieces and keep motivated to make a fist of it best they can.

  127. Andrew Bolt & Gina Rineharts Lovechild
    27 Feb 13
    10:40 am

  128. Lucky the federal government has given all the TV stations a “holiday” on having to pay for their spectrum over the last couple of years.

    How much more dire would the situation be if they had to actually PAY for the privilege of sending out their transmissions?