Dear Mr Warburton, Ms McGarvey, et al,

As 2013 looms large you must be wondering “What’s a Network gotta do to get people to watch these days???”. Those of us that care about Channel 10 are – I was your target demo when you refocused, and I used to love turning onto Ten. I grew up with a Ten that was risky and edgy. A Ten that would offer a big “fuck you” to the other commercial Networks and get on with the business of entertaining us. A Ten that commissioned Big Brother when hardly anyone knew what reality TV was, and a Ten that greenlit MasterChef when everyone asked “Who’d watch a show about people cooking food?!”. A Ten that offered us the best antidote to the 6pm News ever in The Simpsons. That Ten wasn’t around this year and I suspect won’t be for a few years yet as rebuilding your dwindling audience has to be your top priority. Oh, and balancing your budget.

I’m no TV expert. I like TV and I watch a lot of it. As a keen supporter of your Network I’d like to offer you this short list of suggestions (and those added in the comments below from concerned others) as to how you might right the ship and sail Ten back into battle…

Stop trying to revolutionize my News.
OK, so you needed to save money after the loss this year, but was it the smartest idea to do it by cutting your already over-worked Ten News team by a third?! Not only have you lost over 50 years of Ten journalistic experience in Ron Wilson and Bill Woods, but layer in the years offered by Helen Kapalos, Bill McDonald, Craig Smart and countless other journalists, producers and behind the scenes staff that just walked out the door and that’s significant culture and knowledge that can’t be easily replaced. Sure, trim the fat – but halve the cow??

I want my News service to offer me local insight into the stories of the day. I want to know what impact it will have on me when it comes to national stories as well as state or local area stories and cutting local News staff won’t give me that. I certainly don’t want a 5pm networked bulletin (which I appreciate you’ve said you’re not going to do… yet…).

And stop moving The Project. Enough of that kneejerk/filling-the-void shit and give it a chance to breathe.

Sign Adam Boland immediately and give him whatever resources he needs.
Breakfast turned out to be a joyous debacle that too few tuned in for. Establishing any kind of morning programming is tough going, so why not get the man who already did it for one of your rivals and get him to do it for you. He’s twiddling his thumbs at Seven and has this year increased audience share on Weekend Sunrise by 18% on Weekend Today. No question he’ll come with an expensive vision and it’ll take some time, but chances like this don’t come around often. He knows what he’s doing and he’ll fix your morning schedule for you – and in the process likely give you a top-rating brekky TV product.

Risk vs Reward, people.

Stick to your guns with your Aussie drama and light entertainment ideas.
Your programming has struggled to draw breath in the ratings war this year. Puberty Blues was an under-appreciated gem, and Bikie Wars: Brothers In Arms reminded us how Underbelly is supposed to look and feel – but neither of them lit up the OzTAM overnights, though Underground: The Julian Assange Story did well but that’s likely because you’d been promoting it ALL. YEAR. Offspring engaged with me this year in a way the previous seasons have not.

Go hard with your local drama content. Continue to build strong relationships with the production companies that make them and trust them. It wouldn’t hurt to put a bomb under your internal creatives and get them to roll the dice on a couple of new ideas. Take some risks – as an audience we want you to. We need you to. A second series of Puberty Blues isn’t a bad idea, and Secrets and Lies: The Track sounds excellent. So too Mr & Mrs Murder. Testing Chrissie Swan and Dan Ilic with a couple of live episodes of Can Of Worms at the end of this year was really smart, as they both performed brilliantly without a net and could handle the challenge on a weekly basis – and Australia needs more live entertainment TV, not just reality singing crap.

Don’t just keep leaning on NCIS and Modern Family (as good as they both are). Constant repeats of these and other programs will only send your audience looking for it elsewhere. We’re sick of endless iterations of The Biggest Loser Australia though you may have hit the mark with MasterChef Professionals. For the record The Shire, Priscilla & Being Lara Bingle do not fit into this or any other category reffering to “good” programming. I’m pretty sure you worked out what went wrong with Everybody Dance Now quick enough. Don’t do it again, please.

If you’re going to fast-track stuff – mean it, and do it properly.
The kids and their buzzwords, eh? While I appreciate what you tried to do with Super Sunday 2.0 in the latter part of 2012 branding any of the shows as “fast-tracked” was damn near a bald-faced lie. All the episodes on night one were WEEKS old, not days. Foxtel immediately showed you up by delivering a number of their news series “express from the US”, some within hours of the show ending.

Absolutely there are commercial & broadcast licence realities that stop you from playing new episodes of Homeland (great pick-up, btw) at 3pm Monday afternoon there’s very little reason why 8:30pm Monday night couldn’t become the show’s new home. This would not only reward fans for their loyalty – thin on the ground in this TV market – but also deliver a very strong Monday night for you with one of the hottest new shows going around. You can’t hold a show over for nearly a week (or weeks!) and expect us to trust you when you call it “fast-tracked”. More thinking is required on this by you, but taking it seriously means you again are focusing on the demos you used to dominate and if you build it (a decent schedule), they will come (back).

Be a leader in adopting and integrating new technologies.
Your catch up TV platform isn’t great, though the effort you’re putting into your apps for tablets and phones is starting to show. Partnering with zeebox is very, very good idea and working to integrate it into your programming is a really smart thing to do. But don’t stop there now you’ve got some momentum going on.

What are you doing about planning content delivery for when we all have the NBN? What’s your additional multi-channel strategy and do you have more planned? What are you going to do once the analog switch-off is complete – will you run SD and HD versions of Ten? How are you going to attract the torrenting generation back to you? Man cannot live by a second screen app alone…

Thank you for taking the time to read and consider this writer’s ideas, as I’m sure you’re very busy running a TV Network. At least I hope you are.

Yours most sincerely,

TV fanatic & writer.