News

Tim Worner steps down as Seven West Media CEO, with James Warburton taking his place

Seven West Media’s CEO Tim Worner is leaving the company.

James Warburton, former CEO of APN Outdoor and Network Ten, is taking his place, effective immediately.

Worner has tendered his resignation

A press release from the media giant said both Worner and Seven agreed “now is the time for change”.

“Tim has been a tireless leader at Seven for more than two decades, and has been chief executive officer for the past six years,” said chairman Kerry Stokes. “All parties agree now is the time for change. We are fortunate that James was available to commence immediately.”

Warburton has a history with Seven. He was the company’s sales boss, before defecting to Network Ten to take up the CEO role after Grant Blackley – now CEO of Southern Cross Austereo – was sacked by the board.

This resulted in a legal battle over Warburton’s non-compete period.

It was not long, however, before Warburton was also fired by Ten’s board following record-low ratings.

In recent years, Warburton has spent time as CEO of V8 Supercars, and until last year was CEO of outdoor giant APN Outdoor – before it was gobbled up by JC Decaux.

In his new role as CEO of Seven West Media, Warburton will have a base salary of $1.35m including superannuation, and he is eligible to receive a maximum of $4.05m worth of shares.

“This is an exciting time for Seven as we welcome James back to the company,” Stokes added. “James has extensive experience in the industry with knowledge across media, advertising, sports administration, marketing and particularly sales. His passion and energy will reinvigorate the team. We look forward to the contribution he will make.”

Warburton becomes CEO and MD effective immediately

Despite his complex history with the network, Warburton said he was excited about his immediate return.

“I am delighted to be returning to Seven and I am excited about the opportunities that lie ahead to continue to build the business. The foundation of the business is a powerful combination of assets underpinned by outstanding content from Seven Studios, News and our partners in AFL, cricket, horse racing and the Olympic Games.”

Stokes also thanked Worner for his time with the company.

Worner added: “I would like to thank Kerry and the Board for the opportunity they provided me, and their ongoing support and counsel. It’s with mixed emotion that I tender my resignation, however Seven – a company I love – is a very different company now from the one I joined 25 years ago. It’s changed faster than ever in these last few years and that’s down to the hard work of the best team in the business. I sincerely thank the team and I wish them absolutely nothing but continued success.”

Seven has won the ratings battle for the past decade, but this year is facing stiff competition from Nine in total people, particularly on the primary channel.

Despite tentpole programs such as Seven News, Home and Away, and The Chase Australia, as well as sports offerings including the AFL continuing to deliver for Seven, it has struggled to launch new successful programs.

Nine has found success with the likes of Married at First Sight, Lego Masters and Australian Ninja Warrior, while Seven has suffered blows including the poor performance of the Super Switch, and the apparent cancellation of its planned Temptation Island. An additional season of My Kitchen Rules was also put on the back-burner.

Worner’s time at Seven was also marred by scandal following the revelation of an affair with former staffer Amber Harrison, and subsequent allegations of drug use and misuse of expenses. It ended in a bitter court battle, with Worner seemingly weathering the storm and staying on as CEO.

 

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Tune in for what may finally be a good episode 😝 LON – SYD – MEL ✈️

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Timeline of the Tim Worner and Amber Harrison scandal: 

2016:

19 December: Seven boss Tim Worner’s affair with staffer exposed as legal battle rages over payments

19 December: Seven West Media says Tim Worner will stay as boss as shares fall $100m over scandal

22 December: Seven West Media board orders inquiry into CEO Tim Worner’s sex scandal

23 December: TV stars launch court bid to keep names out of Tim Worner scandal

2017:

3 February: Seven West Media board clears CEO Tim Worner of misconduct following probe

3 February: Amber Harrison fires back, claiming Seven’s probe into CEO’s conduct gives green light for men to ‘prey on female staff’

10 February: Amber Harrison tweets emails between Worner and Seven board members relating to AFP raids

13 February: Seven takes out injunction against Amber Harrison to stop release of confidential documents

15 February: Seven earnings down as Worner delivers first results since Harrison scandal revealed

15 February: Worner returns to the public eye bullish on Seven but apologetic as Stokes steps in to take media heat

21 February: Seven and Harrison head back to court as Fairfax and News ask for injunction to be dropped

21 February: Amber Harrison vowed ‘reign of terror’ over Tim Worner, but Seven wins bid to have injunction extended

22 February: Judge criticises Stokes and Kennett over Amber Harrison media attacks

7 April: Tim Worner’s decision to quit Swans board increases pressure on Seven

28 April: Seven and Amber Harrison ordered into mediation by Federal Court

7 July: Amber Harrison concedes defeat in legal fight with Seven

17 July: Amber Harrison loses battle against Seven West Media as court orders her to pay costs

17 July: ‘I’m not going to pay it’: Amber Harrison warns she is unable to foot Seven’s legal bill

10 August: Amber Harrison blogger, Shane Dowling, jailed over contempt of court

16 August: Amber Harrison launches GoFundMe campaign to pay Seven’s legal bills

2018: 

10 May: Seven wins latest case against Amber Harrison, as she is found in contempt of court

The announcement:

Kerry Stokes AC, the chairman of Seven West Media, today announced the appointment of James Warburton as the managing director and chief executive officer of Seven West Media Limited, succeeding Tim Worner who has tendered his resignation. James will start as CEO of Seven West Media effective immediately.

“This is an exciting time for Seven as we welcome James back to the company,” Mr Stokes said. “James has extensive experience in the industry with knowledge across media, advertising, sports administration, marketing and particularly sales. His passion and energy will reinvigorate the team. We look forward to the contribution he will make.”

James Warburton said: “I am delighted to be returning to Seven and I am excited about the opportunities that lie ahead to continue to build the business. The foundation of the business is a powerful combination of assets underpinned by outstanding content from Seven Studios, News and our partners in AFL, cricket, horse racing and the Olympic Games.”

The Chairman thanked Tim Worner for his contribution to the business over many years. “I know I speak on behalf of the Board and all of our people in thanking Tim for his hard work.” he said.

“Our industry is more dynamic today than ever, experiencing rapidly evolving market conditions which continue to present us with challenges and opportunities. In reviewing the requirements for the company, the Board has been considering the right mix of skills and experience required to take advantage of opportunities and accelerate into its next phase of growth.

“Tim has been a tireless leader at Seven for more than two decades and has been Chief Executive Officer for the past six years. All parties agree now is the time for change. We are fortunate that James was available to commence immediately.”

Tim Worner said he was proud of the team he leaves at Seven, a team that has delivered leadership in the television sector for 12 consecutive years. “I would like to thank Kerry and the Board for the opportunity they provided me, and their ongoing support and counsel,” Mr Worner said. “It’s with mixed emotion that I tender my resignation, however Seven – a company I love – is a very different company now from the one I joined 25 years ago. It’s changed faster than ever in these last few years and that’s down to the hard work of the best team in the business. I sincerely thank the team and I wish them absolutely nothing but continued success.”

The Full Year Financial results presentation remains on the 20th of August. The company reaffirms guidance from the May 21st Trading Update.

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