Australia’s Seven West Media Unveil Leadership Change as CEO Resigns

Kerry Stokes, James Warburton - Publicity - H 2019
Courtesy of Seven West Media

James Warburton, a former CEO of rival broadcaster Network Ten will take the reins at the company effective immediately

Former Network Ten CEO James Warburton was named CEO and managing director of Australia's Seven West Media following the surprise resignation of Tim Worner, the company announced Friday. 

Worner has been with the Seven Network, the country’s top-rated commercial TV broadcaster for 25 years and spent the last six years as CEO of its parent company, Seven West Media. Warburton was a longtime sales chief at Seven, before being poached to become CEO of Network Ten under Lachlan Murdoch’s tenure in 2012. Warburton held that position for just 13 months. He subsequently served as CEO of motorsports group V8 Supercars and out-of-home advertising company APN Outdoor. Worner’s highly regarded leadership at Seven was marred by extensive reporting of an affair with former executive assistant Amber Harrison and subsequent court action in 2017.

Seven chairman Kerry Stokes said in a statement that “all parties agree now is the time for change.” 

“This is an exciting time for Seven as we welcome James back to the company,” Stokes said. “James has extensive experience in the industry with knowledge across media, advertising, sports administration, marketing and particularly sales. His passion and energy will reinvigorate the team.”

“I know I speak on behalf of the board and all of our people in thanking Tim for his hard work,” he added.

Stokes acknowledged that rapidly evolving market conditions “continue to present us with challenges and opportunities. The board has been considering the right mix of skills and experience required to take advantage of opportunities and accelerate into its next phase of growth.” 

“Tim has been a tireless leader at Seven for more than two decades and has been chief executive officer for the past six years. We are fortunate that James was available to commence immediately,” he said.  

Worner said, “It’s with mixed emotion that I tender my resignation. However, Seven — a company I love — is a very different company now from the one I joined 25 years ago. It’s changed faster than ever in these last few years and that’s down to the hard work of the best team in the business.” 

Seven is the broadcaster of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games; the top-rated sports league in Australia, the Australian Football League (AFL); and last year relinquished its rights to the Australian Open and domestic tennis in favor of an $800 million (US $1.182 billion) joint five-year deal with with Fox Sports to secure all Cricket Australia events. It is also the home of reality juggernauts My Kitchen Rules and Australia’s Got Talent. 

Seven also owns production business Seven Studios, which is building out its global footprint with a slate that includes Casketeers, the hit observational documentary series picked up by Netflix set in a Maori funeral home; A Place to Call Home, produced by Seven Studios Sydney for Foxtel; and new drama Between Two Worlds, starring U.K. actress Hermione Norris.