‘Sombre mood’ – Staff at Channel 10 face uncertain future as redundancies announced

A staff meeting has been held in the Channel 10 newsroom to address lay-offs taking place within the organisation.

Channel 10 has been left scrambling after news broke of the closure of website 10 Daily before the planned announcement. As reported on The Ben, Rob & Robbo Show, an e-mail was sent to staff advising them the website was to close this Friday.

A staff meeting was called for 2pm to be held on the newsroom floor in Channel 10’s Sydney headquarters at Pyrmont. TV Blackbox understands this meeting was not fed out to other markets, much to the annoyance of workers in other states.

*Hear more on the TV Blackbox podcast tomorrow morning. SUBSCRIBE HERE

News Director Ross Dagan addressed staff and advised that no other cuts would be coming. Despite this news, we are told there was a sombre mood as he delivered the news.

10Daily was a pet project of McGarvey’s and the decision to axe it must not have been taken lightly. The website never gained the traction of Nine and Seven’s offerings but it was part of 10’s long term digital strategy. The site launched with 700,000 unique page views/month (Neilsen) and peaked at 1.3m/month. This in comparison to 8/10/12m from the other big news sites and we start to see why their model was proving to be unsustainable.

*See how the news broke in the player below

Live coverage of today’s closure of 10 Daily from the Ben, Rob and Robbo show.

In February there were already warning signs that budget cuts would bite locally when 10’s parent company ViacomCBS announced cuts in the US. At the time TV Blackbox approached 10 who were not in a position to comment.

Sources at the time told us:

local management is still working through what the merged business will look like locally – whether that involves job cuts remains to be seen.

This seems to be backed up by the e-mail sent out by McGarvey who said:

I want to stress that the changes are part of our broader strategy, not a reaction to recent events.

There has been some speculation previous CEO Paul Anderson left the company because he did not want to oversee another round of redundancies. Anderson was Chief Financial Officer before being elevated to CEO and managed big restructures of the business as he tried to keep it alive.

When 10 was acquired by CBS many staff felt safe for the first time in many years. They believed the deep pockets of the parent company would keep cash coming and allow 10 to build up its war chest.

Indeed, in the first months after the CBS acquisition executives were paid handsome bonuses for coming under budget (that was helped by the FOX programming contract being ripped up)

But there were signs from the very beginning the money would not be there long term. The Blue Horizon project was still active as the parent company looked for savings. As The Herald Sun reported, staff now have to pay $3,300 in carpark feeds to use spaces which used to be free.

Here is the e-mail McGarvey sent out to staff earlier today:

“Dear All,
Today we are announcing a range of transformative measures across Network 10 and ViacomCBS Australia and New Zealand.

In March we introduced the new executive structure for Network 10 and ViacomCBS Australia and New Zealand. Now we are sharing the changes that are the next step in integrating our business and establishing a truly combined company.

The way people are consuming media has changed and will continue to change. Linear TV viewing is a critical part of what we do, however, we need to place greater emphasis on the platform-agnostic use of our amazing local and global content.

The union of Network 10 and ViacomCBS Australia and New Zealand creates a business with unparalleled access to global and local content, networks and commercial partnerships.

But, as you all know, our industry faces both short-term and long-term challenges and opportunities. The changes being announced today will position us to manage those challenges and maximise those opportunities.

We must take steps to ensure our business is structured to compete and win, and that we have a strong, innovative and sustainable company that can thrive in a rapidly evolving market.

“The recent impact of COVID-19 on the media industry has reinforced the need to continue to align our business with our evolving customer needs and global business model, but I want to stress that the changes are part of our broader strategy, not a reaction to recent events.

The integration of Network 10 and ViacomCBS Australia and New Zealand that started on 1 May, when our Sales teams became one, will now extend across all aspects of our combined organisation.

“As part of the measures being undertaken, some staff will leave Network 10 and ViacomCBS Australia and New Zealand.

To those staff, let me express my sincere thanks for all your hard work, dedication and professionalism during your time here. We will fully support you during this period and I wish you all the very best for the future.

Across the organisation, your managers and Human Resources partners will take you through the detail of these measures and their implementation. Please reach out to them with any questions you have.

Thank you in advance for your support and co-operation.
Kind regards,

*Additional reporting by David Robinson

Robert McKnight
"Leading TV commentator" - The Daily Telegraph | "Known for his impeccable sources in the TV industry" - The Daily Mail | Robert McKnight is a highly regarded Australian Television Producer having worked at SEVEN, NINE and TEN during his 25 years in the industry. Publicly he is most well-known for creating and producing STUDIO 10 but has worked on Sunrise, The Morning Show plus other prime time productions in addition to creating award-winning news campaigns for both 7 News and 9 News. Currently Rob is the host and producer of the TV Blackbox, McKnight Tonight and Monsters Who Murder podcasts plus host & Executive Producer of the video streaming show The Ben, Rob & Robbo show

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