Ten Network is using the clout of its mega-wealthy shareholders to help fund a ratings turnaround, after posting a full year loss of $285 million.
Lachlan Murdoch, James Packer and WIN TV owner Bruce Gordon have all agreed to guarantee a new $200 million debt facility from the Commonwealth Bank, which Ten will use to pay for new programs it hopes will lift ratings.
“The board and management of Ten recognise time and financial investment are required to build ratings and revenue, which is why the new financing facility is proposed,” chief executive Hamish McLennan said.
He admitted the network would not have been able to secure the finance facility on such favourable terms without the backing of the trio.
Ten’s other high profile shareholder Gina Rinehart supported the loan but will not be acting as a guarantor.
Ten’s $285 million loss in the 12 months to August 31 was much larger than the previous year’s loss of $12.9 million, due to a 22 per cent slide in revenue and a $292 million writedown on the value of its TV licence.
“Our ratings performance this year has not been acceptable and everyone at Ten Network is focused on improving it,” Mr McLennan said.
After another dismal 12 months, which have seen it stuck in fourth place behind Seven, Nine and the ABC in primetime ratings, Ten will invest heavily in new programming.
Key to its strategy will be the November 4 launch of breakfast program Wake Up and morning talk show Studio 10, both overseen by former Sunrise producer Adam Boland.
The network is focusing on “event TV”, which includes programs like Masterchef and the revived So You Think You Can Dance, along with sporting events including Twenty20 cricket, the Sochi Winter Olympics and the Glasgow Commonwealth Games.
“Not that long ago Ten owned event TV with Australian Idol, Big Brother and so on…we still have event TV programs but we need more,” Mr McLennan said.
Ten has also shifted its target demographic from 16-39 year olds to 25-54 year olds, in an effort to boost revenues.
“This is a lucrative and large demographic for Ten to target,” Mr McLennan said.
Meanwhile, Ten’s annual report shows former chief executive James Warburton, who was sacked in February, was paid $2.2 million for his final six months at the broadcaster.
Mr McLennan, who replaced Mr Warburton in April, was paid $900,000.
Ten’s shares dropped half a cent, or 1.72 per cent, to 28.5 cents.