Australian free-to-air network Ten has gone into voluntary administration. The decision comes after its main financial supporters (James Packer, Lachlan Murdoch, and Bruce Gordon) refused to provide a $250 million loan to replace the $200 million overdraft which the network owes to the Commonwealth Bank of Australia. The three billionaires backed out due to the broadcaster’s huge monetary losses in recent years.
However, they have not abandoned ship completely. According to The Australian, Mr Murdoch and Mr Gordon, who together hold 22.7% of Channel Ten, are working on a plan to save the channel.
In addition, Network Ten CEO Paul Anderson addressed his staff in a video message, stating that the new administrators, KordaMentha, will carry out a three-stage plan over one month. KordaMentha will firstly ensure that business continues as usual, then they’ll assess the network’s finances and operations, and finally, they will restructure Network Ten to recapitalise or sell the company.
In 2011, the network announced an expanded news lineup and pushed it’s youth-orientated programs such as The Simpsons to its digital channel, Eleven. Within two years, Channel Ten were losing millions which only worsened with their attempts to compete with the Seven and Nine networks via similar programs.
But how will this major move affect the viewers? In the short term, nothing will change. However, the network’s programming could look different in the years to follow. Host of The Living Room, Amanda Keller, said today: “Obviously there’s financial issues going on there and the share price is such that a new buyer will come and they’ll be an internal restructure, but it won’t affect any of the programs you see — it’s business as usual.”
Contracts to secure American programs with CBS and Fox have proved to be a large cost for Ten. As a result, lower-rating American programs are likely to be axed while popular shows like Modern Family will survive.
Australian reality television franchises MasterChef, Survivor, and The Bachelor also contribute largely to the broadcaster’s expenditure. However, as per Australia’s broadcasting laws and regulations, the programming of free-to-air primary commercial networks must be at least 55% Australian between 6am and midnight. So Australian reality shows are expected to remain.
Critics and the internet have blasted Channel Ten’s failures. Twitter has been flooded with humorous suggestions for improving the network with the hashtag: #fixnetworkten. Fans feeling nostalgic for the network’s glory days are requesting for old programs to make a comeback such as the music show Video Hits and the children’s morning program Cheez TV. There has also been a call to return The Simpsons to the 6pm slot, as well as hilarious requests for 24/7 Russell Coight and Waleed Aly programming.
There has been some speculation as to whether or not Network Ten will become privatised. This is for the most part, unlikely, but remains uncertain. However, it is certain that the next month will be crucial for the broadcaster.