Even though this would seem to be horrible news for Gruen fans (it’s allegedly not, with Russel apparently staying on with the program), this is all good news for Channel 10. Russel is a seasoned advertising executive who has an excellent understanding of marketing and connecting with audiences. His commercial sensibilities coupled with his profile will help a struggling Ten re-focus and lift into the new year. A smart move by Warburton and it heralds an interesting time for the network to come. From the press release:

Network Ten today announced the appointment of Russel Howcroft as Executive General Manager, effective early 2013.

Based in Melbourne, Mr Howcroft will be responsible for Network Ten’s operations in Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth. Network Ten’s station managers in Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth will report to Mr Howcroft. He will join the company’s Executive Team, reporting to Network Ten Chief Executive Officer James Warburton.

Mr Howcroft is Chairman and Chief Executive of Young & Rubicam Brands Australia and New Zealand, and a member of the company’s Global Executive Committee. He is also a director of Melbourne Football Club and a panellist on the ABC television series The Gruen Transfer and Gruen Planet.

Mr Warburton said: “Russel is a great leader and one of the most outstanding advertising executives in Australia. We are very pleased he is joining Network Ten. Russel is extremely well connected in the marketing, advertising and media sectors. His appointment will bring new skills and strengths to the Network Ten management team, particularly in the Melbourne market.”

Mr Howcroft said: “After 24 years of working for some of the best agencies, in the world, I am privileged to be given the chance to pursue another great passion. Television is a very powerful and engaging medium and my experience over the past few years have fuelled my desire to work within the television business.”

“In this multi-screen world, television has terrific opportunities to lead the way and develop devoted audiences.”

Mr Howcroft will leave Young & Rubicam Brands in January and join Network Ten in February 2013.