If it were a prime-time drama that’d be heaps (11 and a half season’s worth). As a 5-day a week breakfast program it’s not very much at all (just under 30 weeks – a third of that over summer). It’s barely run in.
Today the Wake Up team signed off for the final time after news two days ago that the Ten Board had decided to pull the pin on it as well as their Early, Morning and Late News bulletins, along with their LA and London bureaus. Additionally 150 jobs will go, initially as voluntary redundancies and then forced or terminations.
That’s a lot of people taking the fall for some very shoddy decisions by people who have managed to retain their well paid positions.
The cancellation of Ten’s second go at a breakfast program in as many years was no surprise. The network’s hand had been forced – the show had never rated competitively with Seven’s Sunrise, Nine’s The Today Show or even ABC’s News Breakfast. The media had been reporting it was dead in the water and was to be dismissed almost as soon as Peter Meakin arrived to take up the role as Head of News and Current Affairs for the struggling network. Criticism flew over the location of the show’s studio on North Manly beach – singled out as being too expensive to refurb and too far out of the city for guests to come on set and so most interviewees were remote (often in Ten’s Pyrmont studios next to the Sydney CBD).
To the cast and crew of Wake Up they soldiered on every weekday morning in the face of howling criticism, smiles firmly planted on their faces. It must have been particularly hard for these final two days to even turn up to work let alone deliver a relaxed and enjoyable brekky show. This if nothing else is testament to the talent creator Adam Boland and subsequent EP Steve Wood selected and worked with.
James Mathison approached his final day on-air with signature style:
Don't forget, tomorrow morning is the exciting season finale of @wakeup. Tune in from 630am and see who gets eliminated! (SPOILER: We do.)
— James Mathison (@jamesmathison) May 22, 2014
This latest round of cancellations and staff cuts is something Ten can ill-afford to do or avoid. It’s the second gutting of their newsroom in as many years. But with a share price of less than $0.30 and a couple of massive loans hanging over their head they had to do something.
For viewers there seems to be little accountability for decisions like this. LOTS of people have now given Ten third and fourth chances to prove that they’re not going to mess with their favourite shows, or deliver programs consistently… and they keep getting disappointed. Current CEO Hamish McLennan and Meakin only have a chance to mop-up the messes they’ve inherited (and given how long their predecessors were in the roles it isn’t their fault either).
Shareholders (and viewers) deserve far better from the Board of Ten Network Holdings Pty Ltd.
A once competitive network now flounders with ratings only coming from shows rusted-on viewers can only find on free-to-air TV on Ten (don’t anybody tell them about the internet). It’s edgy “younger person’s network” status is long gone, as are the viewers who used to fill that demo. The decision the Board have made over the last few years only reinforce they don’t know what their doing and yet they’re unwilling to trust their fate to the very people they’ve employed to fix things.
Where’s the innovation? Where’s the risk? Where’s the network that green-lit Australian Idol, Big Brother and MasterChef Australia?
13 years ago Australia first learned of the terrorist attacks on America from Sandra Sully on Ten Late News. Now, having axed the program for the second time in the last four years, Ten must once again try to take stock and determine who it is to its viewers and the market and seek to turn things around. At least who it can afford to be, anyway.
Drawing viewers back will be a marathon that Ten now has to start – again. We can only wonder if there will be anybody left on the sidelines to cheer them on… if they ever get close to the finish line.