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

In an analyst and media call unlike anything Seven has served up before at its half-year results – embattled CEO Tim Worner apologised again for his indiscretion and chairman Kerry Stokes slammed a journalist who suggested a former director had been silenced over the Amber Harrison affair.


Fronting media and investors for the first time since the sex scandal embroiled the CEO, Worner took the bull by the horns and opened the traditional results briefing with a strong statement vowing he would not give the allegations by his former lover further oxygen.

While Worner opened the proceedings with his promise to move forward before touting Seven’s success in a half-year where group profit plummeted 90.8%, it fell to chairman Kerry Stokes to field the questions coming in from the media.

Worner has been disciplined by Seven West Media chairman Kerry Stokes

Kerry Stokes handled most media questions about Tim Worner

The chairman refuted suggestions from one journalist that Seven’s own news channels had gone dark on the Amber Harrison scandal, saying he believed outlets such as The West Australian had been across the issue.

At the same time he noted that Worner had offered to do whatever the board wanted to make amends when the issue was first raised two years ago and that the CEO continued to enjoy the full support of the board.

Stokes also rejected assertions there was concern from shareholders over the issue.

“We have 24,256 shareholders and we have had four letters and one phone call. Most shareholders see what this is,” Stokes said.

However, Seven’s chairman bristled when asked by The Australian’s Will Glasgow whether there had been any pressure put on former board member Sheila McGregor, whose resignation coincided with the handing down of the independent report into Seven’s handling of the Amber Harrison affair, to not speak with media.

“That’s outrageous,” Stokes responded.

“Are you seriously suggesting I or my board would will tell a director what they can and can’t do? How dare you.”

As Worner quickly moved to the next question, Glasgow was heard to apologise to Stokes in the background.

Stokes was also asked if the Harrison issue, along with two other alleged incidents of theft by other staff members, raised bigger questions about Seven’s corporate governance.

“I can assure you, I watch the till,” he said.

Stokes was also asked to weigh in on the issue of board member Jeff Kennett, who engaged in an ongoing dialogue with Harrison on Twitter about her accusations and Seven’s response.

Stokes said Kennett was not acting on behalf of the company but was speaking as “Mr Kennett”.

The chairman also praised his CEO and noted Worner had been removed from any decisions relating to Seven’s handling of the affair since it came to the board’s attention years ago.

“This is how he has been able to focus on what he is doing [delivering Seven’s result],” Stokes said.

“At the end of the day it has been stressful for him and his family.”

Worner used the briefing to assert his position, talking up Seven in the face of the massive drop in group profits.

The CEO said Seven was beginning to see suggestions that advertisers were moving their thinking from a short-term view to taking longer bookings, while Seven was also seeing the return of FMCG advertisers to TV and was creating a better multi-platform approach.

Seven shares were down 6.15% at 1.30pm in the face of the results.


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