Lachlan Murdoch's Ten Names News Corp. Exec Hamish McLennan CEO

2:20 AM PST 02/22/2013 by Pip Bulbek

Ten Network's former CEO James Warburton had been on the job just 13 months.

SYDNEY -- Ten Network Holdings has fired its CEO and managing director James Warburton after just 13 months in the job.

In a dramatic move Friday night, Ten chairman Lachlan Murdoch announced that ad industry veteran Hamish McLennan, who is currently serving as a special advisor to Rupert Murdoch at News Corp, had been appointed as the new CEO.

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Murdoch said: “The Board is delighted to have been able to attract a world class CEO with a strong track record to lead Ten.”

“The Board would like to thank James Warburton for his hard work and contribution during what has been a difficult period for the Company and for the broader media sector. He steps down with Ten’s best wishes, ” Murdoch added but gave no specific reason for Warburton’s departure.

“Ten is a media business with a strong balance sheet and excellent staff. I look forward to leading Ten through a period of creative renewal and financial growth,” McLennan said.

McLennan, a Sydney native, joined News Corp in 2011 as executive vice president in the office of the chairman, where he was appointed to build the relationships between Rupert Murdoch’s media empire and its key advertisers. He is also chairman of the REA group here, which operates marketing leading website realestate.com.au. Prior to joining News Corp. McLennan was global chairman and CEO of Young & Rubicam. He was the first non-American and youngest person to run Young & Rubicam since it was founded in 1925.

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He will start his new role at Ten on March 18. Another former ad industry veteran, Russell Howcroft, now Ten’s executive general manager, will be acting CEO until the handover.

Lachlan Murdoch famously poached Warburton from rival Seven Network for the top job at Ten in 2011, but a protracted legal battle instigated by Seven chairman Kerry Stokes -- who had wanted Warbuton to take over from David Leckie -- meant Warburton’s start at Ten was delayed by eight months.

Now just over a year after that, he’s been shown the door, prompted it seems by falling revenues and ratings and a string of high profile program failures in 2012. At the company’s annual general meeting in December, Murdoch blamed "poor execution” of Ten’s program schedule and a weak advertising market for its woes.

That pattern has continued into 2013. In the first two weeks of the official ratings year this year, the network has rated well behind commercial rivals Seven and Nine, slipping on several nights to fourth place behind public broadcaster the ABC. Ten’s share of TV ad revenues fell to a record low last year, with the network posting a $12 million loss in October 2012.

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