Difficult times for the Seven Network with news that the Network’s successfully revived Sydney 6pm news might be hit by a reduction in working hours for newsreader, Ian Ross.

A former weekend and early morning newsreader at Nine, Ross has enjoyed his rebirth as a prime time reader on a regular and very successful basis – a role the Nine Network repeatedly denied him.

Ross is currently the Monday-to-Friday newsreader but his contract expires at the end of this year and I hear he now wants to cut his reading commitments to four nights a week. Seven wants him to continue with five. This proposal has gone to Seven bosses who are reportedly under-impressed, but know they need him because they are still developing talent.

The news of Ross’s contract proposals will not help an already weakening Seven share price. It’s been a losing week for the Seven Network in the ratings, the third in a row. There was also the shock of the profitable option deals for CEO David Leckie and his Commercial director, Bruce McWilliam. As a result the share price goes for a burton.

Seven shares closed at $6.86 yesterday, down 44 cents from Friday’s close. That’s still high by 2004 standards when the stock was all but unwanted.

Leckie converted 1.5 million options to shares at $5 and is still making a profit of 1.86% per share, and has another 1.5 million options in his kitty. McWilliam converted half his two million options to shares and is sitting on a $1.86 million gross profit, which is more than twice he earned in 2004. Leckie’s gross profit from his conversion is $2.8 million.

Seven lost to Nine last night despite having more top rating shows, simply because Jamie’s Kitchen on the Ten Network blew away the opposition between 7.30pm and 8.30pm.

As a result Seven finished with a national share of 26.4%, Nine won with 29.3% and Ten was third with 25.2%. The ABC finished with 14.8% and SBS with 4.3%

Get Crikey for $1 a week.

Lockdowns are over and BBQs are back! At last, we get to talk to people in real life. But conversation topics outside COVID are so thin on the ground.

Join Crikey and we’ll give you something to talk about. Get your first 12 weeks for $12 to get stories, analysis and BBQ stoppers you won’t see anywhere else.

Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
12 weeks for just $12.