Former Project presenter Peter van Onselen has warned that Network Ten is facing a ‘disaster’ and may not survive after local ratings plummet and the US stock price crashes.
Dr. Van Onselen left his role as political editor earlier this year, but in a swipe at his old bosses, he now fears the ten days are numbered.
Paramount, the US owner of the TV station, has seen its share price crash from more than $97 two years ago to less than $15 today.
That was accompanied by a similar drop in market share in Australia, where its flagship 5 p.m. news show gained just six percent of the TV audience this month.
He was told by a TV manager at a rival station that this was the worst result he had seen in “30 years in the business.”
Former Project presenter Peter van Onselen (pictured) has warned Network Ten is facing ‘disaster’ and may not survive after local ratings plummeted and US stock price plummeted
Ten’s flagship 5pm show hosted by Sandra Sully (pictured) won just six per cent of the TV audience this month, said Dr van Onselen
Dr. van Onselen, who became a Sunday Project host in 2020, admitted: “When CBS (now Paramount) took on the little Aussie warrior, I assumed the future was bright.
“But the latest news from the US is reason to doubt its long-term viability.”
In an opinion piece for The AustralianDr van Onselen denounced his former network, labeling it ‘the minnow of Australian commercial television’.
He said it was “outnumbered now and outnumbered by 7 and 9” and squandered the chance of becoming a major network.
“Supported by a huge US media player – now renamed Paramount – was a clear advantage that the other Aussie networks don’t have,” he said.
“It was one of the reasons I took the job as a political editor of 10.”
But since then, Paramount has been overshadowed globally by streaming giants like Netflix, Disney and Warner, leaving it struggling to compete.
The American owners posted a staggering $1 billion loss in the first three months of this year, cut dividends by 80 percent and announced a hiring freeze.
The announcements have shocked investors, with Paramount’s share price dropping 30 percent in the past month and more than 50 percent in the past year.
The company’s largest shareholder is famed stock market guru Warren Buffett with a 15 percent stake in the company — and fears are growing that he may choose to cut his losses and pull out soon, Dr. from Onselen.
“He doesn’t think streaming is the future for Paramount unless scaling can be achieved quickly,” he added.
“If he dumps it, the share price will fall even more than it already is. Buffett leaving a company is one way to create panic, and Paramount is already in panic mode.
“It would be a disaster for the current management.”
Paramount, the US owner of Ten, has seen its share price crash from more than $97 two years ago to less than $15 today after losing $1 billion in the first three months of this year.
The company’s largest shareholder is renowned stock market guru Warren Buffett (left) with a 15 percent stake in the company – and fears are growing that he may choose to cut his losses and pull out soon, Dr. Paramount’s stock price is down 30 percent in the past month alone and more than 50 percent in the past year (right)
Dr. van Onselen left Ten three months ago but has yet to be replaced after management approached several contenders at rival networks who all turned it down.
Bosses are currently reportedly trying to persuade a female newspaper reporter – whom Daily Mail Australia would not name – to take the role after Ten’s offer was reportedly turned down by high-profile TV veterans, though TV bosses deny taking the role offer to someone.
‘Thanks but no thanks’
At least four political reporters reportedly rejected Ten’s attempts to take over Peter van Onselen.
Insiders have told Daily Mail Australia that Sky News duo Kieran Gilbert and Tom Connell have turned down both offers.
Ten’s Dan Sutton and Ursula Heger also said no to the role, the insider says, though Ten denies offering the job to anyone.
Currently, ten executives are said to be in talks with a newspaper reporter to take the job, but if those negotiations fail, an internal appointment will be made immediately.
Stela Todorovic, reporter for Ten’s Canberra press gallery, is reportedly standing on the sidelines to become political editor if the network is again censured.
Insiders told Daily Mail Australia that one of the reasons Dr Van Onselen left the station was because he disagreed with decisions made by the news outlet’s head Martin White, whose LinkedIn bio describes his editorial judgment as ‘unparalleled’.
Ten barely entered Australia’s top 20 shows on Friday night, with only The Project and Ten News First coming in at only 18th and 19th.
On Monday night, Ten’s news show didn’t even make the top 20. ABC’s news shows, Seven and Nine were all the top six shows of the night.
Dr. Van Onselen said the slump had set in and worsened despite Sandra Sully, “Australia’s number one female news anchor,” being at the helm.
“The network’s ratings have slowly but steadily gotten lower and lower, widening the gap between the network and its more successful commercial rivals in Australia,” he said.
He said it was “a sure sign that the brand and management, not the host,” were the source of the problem.
U.S. management could now decide to pull the plug on Australia’s power to cut costs globally, Dr. from Onselen.
Either way, the optimistic future Ten once seemed to have when CBS/Paramount announced the acquisition is now long gone.
“It could be fine, limping along with little attention from its large foreign owner (or its domestic competitors to be fair),” he said.
It’s such a small part of Paramount that losses or gains of 10 matter little to the American owners.
“But even struggling big companies tend to limit their losses by dumping unprofitable parts of their business.
“There certainly won’t be the kind of investment in the brand that was once thought likely when the acquisition was announced by CBS.”
Ten dismissed the speculation, saying local ratings were “great” and it would be a $100 in fiscal 2021.324 million profit.
A spokesperson added, “Network 10 has experienced strong year-over-year growth in key demographics, ratings and commercial share, demonstrating an excellent first half of the year for 2023.
‘This year our share has increased by 0.6 point in the total number of people and by 1.5 point in the 25-54 age group.
10 Play is also having its best year ever with 23 per cent more minutes watched than last year and Paramount+ is Australia’s fastest growing streaming service.
“Network 10 dominates key advertising demographics this year with six of the top 10 programs in 25s to 54s and under 50s, and seven of the top 10 programs in 16 to 39s with our tentpole entertainment shows.
“The Project is Australia’s youngest news and current affairs programme, reaching over six million Australians each month and reaching the largest livestream audience ever, as well as the largest monthly audience of the year in May.
“10 News First hits its biggest monthly viewership of the year in May, with six percent more monthly viewers in May than in April.”