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‘It was pretty hard news to cop’: Studio 10 responds to axing of stars including Kerri-Anne Kennerley

Kerri-Anne Kennerley has joked she’s “back on the Lazy Susan of television” after yesterday’s talent cuts across Network Ten, which will see her and Natarsha Belling leave the Studio 10 team in a few weeks.

The morning show’s panel addressed the redundancies on-air this morning, with Joe Hildebrand, who looks to also be leaving the company, noting he’s still in discussions with Ten and is uncertain about what his future holds.

The panel spoke about the news on this morning’s show

Co-host Sarah Harris started by acknowledging that “in a few weeks time, Studio 10, our little show, will look very different to what it does now”. Yesterday, Ten admitted further changes will be made to the morning show in the coming weeks.

“It was pretty hard news to cop yesterday,” Harris said. “We’re losing colleagues, we’re losing mates, we’re losing family members essentially.”

Kennerley – who joined as a co-host almost two years ago, in September 2018 – has held multiple presenting roles across her career, including on radio show Kerri-Anne at Midday and morning TV program Kerri-Anne. She said she will miss her “new friends” at Studio 10, but the company’s decision will “in the long run, sav[e] a lot more jobs”.

“It’s very very tough for a lot of people, but I’ve always worked, on a personal level, the Charles Darwin theory that says to survive you don’t have to be the most intelligent, you don’t have to be the strongest,” she said.

“But you have to be, to survive, the most adaptable. My life theory is that and I’ve got to say, I’m so grateful that, a little while ago, you invited me on the program. Because I have had such a good time with all my new friends. And I don’t say that lightly, because you’ve all been so delightful, so charming, and so generous. That’s the whole production staff, everybody on the floor.

“I’ve had a ball. The reason I’ve got this outfit on today [a cream jacket with shoulder tassels] is because if you are being run out of town, get in front of the parade, or get in front of the crowd, and make it look like a parade.

“Let’s face it, we’ve got to get down to logic here. It is what it is. It’s not the first time, unfortunately. Companies do these sort of cuts to make the business better, which, in the long run, saves a lot more jobs. And I do not say it lightly – I’m very, very sad, because I will miss you guys, and miss the audience, miss the feedback. But that said, it is what it is. You just have to suck it up, move on.”

In her nearly two-year stretch with the show, Kennerley has courted controversy with her comments about moving the date of Australia Day – “It was a couple of hundred years ago. Get over it. Let’s just move on” – and using climate protesters as speed bumps.

“No emergency services should help them, nobody should do anything, and you just put little witches hats around them, or use them as a speed bump,” she said – “in jest” according to Ten – last October.

Studio 10 will continue to air weekdays from 8am to midday, with Harris and Angela Bishop as permanent co-hosts. Denise Drysdale, Denise Scott and Jono Coleman will continue as contributors, and Narelda Jacobs will remain as news presenter.

Hildebrand tweeted last night that “at Studio 10 we are family and whatever happens to me won’t change that. More important is that we make sure all those left jobless or homeless or broken by this thing [COVID-19] are taken care of and put back on their feet”.

Yesterday’s redundancy round, which impacts at least 25 roles, also included long-time weatherman Tim Bailey. Mike Larkan, Georgina Lewis, Josh Holt, Rebecca Morse, Will Goodings, Kate Freebairn, Michael Schultz and Monika Kos will also leave the network. Sydney and Melbourne will become the central locations for the weekday 10 News First bulletins.

The industry’s union, the Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance, said Viacom CBS’ ownership of Ten hasn’t led to the stability it should have.

“The end result of these cuts is that viewers will simply seek their news and information somewhere else,” said the media division’s acting director Adam Portelli.

“When the network was taken over by Viacom CBS three years ago this month, it was hoped that Network 10 would finally enjoy stability and an injection of new ideas. Despite the best efforts of staff who have constantly struggled to do more with less, we are now seeing deep cuts that have cruelled the hard work done by so many loyal employees.

“Concerningly, under the restructuring being introduced by management, we now have the prospect of sports journalists having to film their own news stories. That’s a slippery slope that presents a real danger for news presentation in Australia.”

Ten boss Beverley McGarvey said the cuts – which follow a round of redundancies when Ten’s sales team merged with that of its parent company Viacom CBS, and the shuttering of 10 Daily – are “essential to future-proofing our business”, which recorded a $226m loss earlier this year.

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