After a string of ratings failures, Ten’s programmer makes his exit

THE Ten Network’s chief programmer, David Mott, fell on his sword yesterday, capping a disastrous week for the No.3 network after axing its failed dance show on Monday.
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The company announced his resignation after 16 years with the network, during which time he brought to the screen breakthrough shows such as MasterChef, Big Brother and Australian Idol.

But more recent programs to have been broadcast under his tenure, including The Shire, Being Lara Bingle and Everybody Dance Now, have failed to find audiences, leaving Ten trailing Nine and Seven in audience ratings and revenue.

The pressure now is on the Ten chief, James Warburton, and the chairman, Lachlan Murdoch, to find a successor who can lure younger viewers back to the network with innovative programming. It is a strategy that involves more than an element of risk, a point acknowledged by Mr Mott in his statement.

”I am proud of the bold programming decisions we have made at Ten over that time, because without risk there is less chance of success,” he said. In the last week Ten’s highest rating program, Puberty Blues, was the 27th most watched program with a national capital city audience of 925,000. Ten needs to generate higher ratings in the last quarter of the year if it wants to increase its 25 per cent share of the $2.9 billion TV ad market.

Talks with media buyers for the allocation of budgets in the forthcoming year begin in October. Peter Horgan, the chief executive of the media buying firm OMD, said the next few weeks would be critical for Ten. ”The hope was that they would fire after the Olympics but it hasn’t happened. Had they had some successes then it would have been easier to restore some faith [among media buyers] about what’s coming next year. They need to make 2013 work.”

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