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Ten drops Matt Preston, Gary Mehigan and George Calombaris as negotiations break down

Despite being with the show since its inception, Gary Mehigan, George Calombaris and Matt Preston will not return to Ten for the 12th season of Masterchef next year.

The announcement comes shortly after the network announced it would support the embattled Calombaris as he faced a mere $200,000 fine as the result of his business underpaying workers by $7.8m. Now, however, the broadcaster says it has been unable to reach an agreement with the trio.

Ten initially told Mumbrella it would stand by Calombaris after the fine, and that it wouldn’t be commenting further on the matter.

“George and Made Establishment have reached an agreement with the Fair Work Ombudsman in relation to this matter. George has the support of Network 10. We will not be making any further comment,” a Ten spokesperson told Mumbrella late last week.

But in an announcement today, chief executive officer Paul Anderson said the three would be leaving the network due to an inability to reach a commercial agreement.

“Despite months of negotiation, Ten has not been able to reach a commercial agreement that was satisfactory to Matt, Gary and George.

“Across 11 sensational seasons, Masterchef Australia has established itself as one of the most popular and respected cooking television series around the world. For more than a decade, the iconic series has shaped and driven the Australian public’s passion for food and cooking, delivered iconic television moments, and made the culinary dreams of everyday home cooks come true.”

Anderson went on to thank the trio, and confirm the show would be returning for season 12 without them.

“We would like to thank Gary, George and Matt for their contribution over the past 11 years,” he said.

“Masterchef Australia has always been about ordinary Australians doing extraordinary things for the love of food and we believe it is very important to continue that ethos.

“Australia is full of remarkable cooking talent and we can’t wait to introduce another group – and the next generation of exceptional judges – in season 12 of Masterchef Australia next year.”

The decision comes after it was revealed Calombaris’ Tourism WA campaign had been canned.

“Given the recent community response due to Mr Calombaris’ issues with the Fair Work Commission we have paused the parts of the campaign that have featured him and we’re speaking with his management,” a spokesperson told Mumbrella.

Morning Show reporter Peter Ford said Tourism WA would be pulling its advertising from Masterchef.

The show has also been a good ratings pull for Ten, with the 2018 season regularly delivering audiences over 800,000 and 2019’s 11th season sitting between 600,000 and 800,000 after a premiere of 715,000. The show often performs well in the three key advertising demographics of 16-39s, 18-49s and 25-54s. 

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