News

Wake Up, news shows axed by troubled Ten as network seeks to cut costs

Ten has cancelled its breakfast show Wake Up after six months of poor ratings as the TV network desperately seeks to cut costs, while the early and late news shows will also cease production after Friday with as many as 150 jobs set to go.

The Breakfast show, which launched in November 2013, failed to find an audience – attracting just 30-40,000 metro viewers per day, around a tenth of free-to-air rivals Sunrise on Seven and Today on Nine.

Ten hired Adam Boland, the architect of Seven’s Sunrise to create a new breakfast offering which launched with his other creation, Studio 10, almost a year to the day after the network axed the ill-fated Breakfast show.

The network also confirmed there would be up to a number of redundancies, with some of the network’s news programs including the Early, Morning and Late news bulletins to be axed under the major shake up, however it did not put a number on it in an email sent to staff.

Boland, centre, and the original Wake Up lineup of Exelby, Hafner, Belling and Jamison

Boland, centre, and the original Wake Up lineup of Exelby, Hafner, Belling and Mathison

While the state-based news bulletins will retain their own newsreaders, off-camera staff including cameramen, floor staff and editors who produce local news will go under the changes.

Ten CEO Hamish McLennan wrote in an email to staff this morning:

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.

He also confirmed that morning program Studio 10 would stay writing: “Studio 10 is performing well and will continue as a vital part of our daytime schedule, which ranks number one.”

Mumbrella understands a staff meeting was held at 12.30pm where staff were told of the decision which was made at a Ten board meeting this morning.

Wake Up launched with three presenters, James Mathison, Natasha Exelby and Natarsha Belling in a beachside studio in Manly, but just 16-days in Exelby was cut as the chemistry of the show was deemed not to be working. Exelby quietly left the network last month.

Executive producer Boland left the show for health reasons in February and was replaced by veteran producer Steve Wood.

The writing was on the wall for the program when Ten’s newly installed head of news Peter Meakin said in press interviews he would be reviewing the current affairs line up.

One of his first moves was to axe the localised bulletins with news anchor Nuala Hafner set to move from Melbourne to Manly in order to improve the chemistry, however the move never materialised.

McLennan acknowledged to staff that they were going through a “tough period” and that the business would need to take “painful” steps to restructure.

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

“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.”

In a statement the network confirmed: “A voluntary redundancy program has commenced in Network Ten’s News and Operations department.”

The axing of the show comes against a backdrop of dire ratings and falling advertising revenue share for Ten in all timeslots.

On Friday, the network was beaten for audience share by Nine’s digital channel Go in Sydney and Brisbane, and ran neck-and-neck with 7Two in Adelaide.

The latest advertising spend data showed that the network’s share of ad revenue had fallen to just 19.3 per cent of the free TV market.

Network Ten news and current affairs director Peter Meakin told the Australian Financial Review this morning that: “Revenue is down the toilet and the ratings are less than auspicious.

“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.”

The final episode will be this Friday, May 23.

Alex Hayes and Nic Christensen 

McLennan’s email to staff

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.

Ten statement:

Network Ten today announced Wake Up and the TEN Early, Morning and Late News will cease production on Friday, May 23.

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.

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