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Lachlan Murdoch Says Australia’s Network Ten Has Rediscovered Its Mojo

New local, international programming for 2012 will help Ten be dominant in 18-49’s.

SYDNEY - “To be brutally honest a couple of years ago Ten had lost its mojo. But we have rediscovered it, we have reinvested in it and we have re-energized it."

So said Ten Network Holdings CEO Lachlan Murdoch at an event that had Wicked star Rob Mills belting out an upbeat 2011 version of Young Talent Time (YTT) signature tune, All My Lovin’ to mark the return of the eighties variety show to TV, a fleet of Harley Davidson motorcycles escorting guests to a swanky after-party, and departing advertisers and media buyers gifted with HDTVs -- all part of Ten’s showy upfront presentation and 2012 programming launch in Sydney on Wednesday night.

New appointments at Ten, Australia’s third ranked commercial network, including a handful of new board members, an interim and CEO designate, a corporate-wide strategic review and a $52 million investment in new programming have “re-energized” the network in the last 10 months, allowing Murdoch to declare “Ten is back."

Outlining the network’s program line up for 2012, headlined by some risky new programming including the return of YTT, a new breakfast show, Breakfast, that will go head to head with rival Nine and Seven’s seasoned shows, Today and Sunrise and four new Australian dramas, Murdoch and Ten’s chief programming officer David Mott said Ten will now challenge for dominance of, if not the number one position in 18-49s on its premium channel and a share of TV ad revenue in excess of 30% in 2012.  

“If we deserved 30% this year in 2012 we deserve an even bigger share,” Murdoch said, without giving an exact target.

Ten’s share of Australia’s $1.85billion commercial TV ad revenue for the first half of 2012 was 28.25%, while the network’s overall ratings share has lifted 6.1% this year, according to sales director Kylie Rogers.

The new shows will slide into the schedule with the majority of Ten’s existing line up to return next year, including, somewhat contentiously a second season on underperforming big ticket franchise The Renovators.

Mott acknowledged that The Renovators, created by Shine Australia, is proving problematic.

“So far the format has underperformed. But it’s a brand we believe in so we are working directly with [producers] Shine to renovate The Renovators for 2011 and beyond,” he said, although Ten sources said its number of broadcast hours would remain the same in any revamp of the format.

Mott said overall 2012 was shaping up as “one of the boldest and most entertaining years ever on Ten”.

Rogers said the network's approach to going early with its 2012 line up was simply because Ten “has confidence in our schedule and we are ready to share it” adding, “we want to fit in with your [advertiser’s] planning cycles”.

Ten’s 2012 line up includes:  

New Local drama:

Underground: the Julian Assange Story: the first drama from the NBC Universal Matchbox Pictures joint venture. “In Melbourne in 1991 a 19-year-old led of  a team of hackers that got into the U.S. Department of Defense, NASA and other high security agencies. His name was Mendax, you know him better by his real name: Julian Assange.”

Bikie Wars Brothers in Arms; the true story of the Milperra Massacre and the Bandidos and Comancheros’ wars of the 1980s from Screentime. “Underbelly on two wheels, with tatts, and a great deal of attitude. I can’t wait," said Murdoch. So much so that Murdoch put on around 30 Harley Davidson’s to ferry launch guests from the theatre venue to the after-party bar, 50 meters up the road.

Puberty Blues: TV adaptation of the Cronulla coming of age classic by Kathy Lette and Gabrielle Carey from producer John Edwards' Southern Star.

Reef Doctors: Lisa McCune joins Ten as co-producer, with Jonathan M Shiff Productions, and star of action adventure series set on the Great Barrier Reef and the Daintree.

Entertainment;

Young Talent Time: A reworking of the classic 1980s variety show, which kicked off the careers of Danni Minogue and Tina Arena for “the Glee generation” YTT will play “a significant role in Ten’s schedule."

Breakfast from 6am – 9am weekdays will shake up the existing programs from January .

International drama:

Terra Nova and Homeland will both air from October, 2011. The Graham Norton Show has been poached from the ABC and will form the centrepiece of Ten’s Saturday night schedule. “Now we have a reason to stay in on Saturday night. Can someone tell the ABC we've taken one of their key shows?" said Mott.

New Girl, the Zooey Deschanel sitcom “is absolutely at the sweet spot of what Ten is: the closest thing to Friends we’ve seen in a long time,” says Mott.

Also new from Ten’s output deal with Fox and CBS: The Finder; A spin off of Bones; Police drama The 2-2 produced by Robert de Niro; medico drama The Gifted Man and sitcom How to be A Gentleman, starring Reece Darby and Kevin Dillon.

Returning series:

The Renovators, The Circle The 7Pm Project, 6.30 with George Negus. Offspring  Bondi Rescue, Bondi Vet, Masterchef, The Biggest Loser – singles (datign via dieting), Can of Worms, and new Glee, Modern Family, Merlin, Law and Order franchise, NCIS the Good Wife and Hawaii Five-O,

Not yet confirmed for 2011: Rush and Talkin’ Bout Your Generation.

And to round out 2011: Junior Masterchef, Class Of 11, Recruits: Paramedics, a revamp of Good News Week as Good News World, Rush and the AFL Grand Final.