Falloon disengagement begins. The disengagement of Ten Network executive chairman, Nick Falloon, from the company has started. A statement from the TV network owner this morning announced that the network “had completed negotiations with TEN’s executive chairman Nick Falloon to extend his term and vary his existing service agreement.”

Under the varied service agreement, Mr Falloon has agreed to remain as executive chairman for a minimum further term of 12 months commencing 1 September 2008 and will continue to hold office after that date unless either party notifies the other.

The new arrangements also reflect the confidence of the TEN Board in the current chief executives of each of the Network TEN television (Grant Blackley) and EYE Group out-of-home (Gerry Thorley) divisions in continuing to manage and grow their respective operations.

The varied service agreement permits Mr Falloon to undertake outside activities which do not compete with TEN and do not detract from or interfere with his duties and responsibilities as TEN’s executive chairman.

As such, on and from 1 September 2008 Mr Falloon will reduce his time commitment to TEN by 50% and his existing fixed annual remuneration and short term cash incentive arrangements will also be reduced by 50% commensurate with the reduced time commitment.

According to TV industry chat such a move has been on the cards for a while. Mr Falloon surprised by revealing a 10% profit downgrade for Ten in an announcement on June 13. Then three weeks later the company revealed a 10% share buyback nover the next 12 months that was clearly designed to halt the slide in the company’s share price. The controlling CanWest Group of Canada and the second largest shareholder, Bruce Gordon’s WIN Corporation, won’t be accepting for their holdings in the company. That emans there holdings in Ten will increase. The announcement means that mr Falloon will be a part time executive chairman, with outside non competing board positions. That certainly sounds like a transition process. The betting is that Ten will have a non-executive chairman sometime in the next year. Will it be an appointee of CanWest? Ten shares rose 1.5 cents this morning to $1.485. — Glenn Dyer

Satin safari watch. Channel Ten’s Helen Kapalos was hunting the news last night.

Top Gear loses its “Stig” . Watching SBS last night I was proud to see the Australian made Holden Commodore VE R8 getting a run as the Vauxhall VXR8 on the test track as the first story. Typically Top Gear ‘s first story is used by host Jeremy Clarkson to go burning around the test track like a total maniac before handing over the car to “The Stig” who is the equivalent of an anonymous benchmark tester in a fast lap test. It may not be everyone’s cup of tea but with six litre V8 hiding under the bonnet and Jeremy’s unique nutter approach to test track driving — there is much smoke, merriment and carry on. Which is all excellent, except… At about five minutes into the story as screened last night by SBS a fade out occurred and then Top Gear moved onto the next story… what? Where was the blunt social commentary, the witty sarcasm about BBQs and beer (which there was a little bit of but I suspect there was more coming) and most of all… where the hell was “The Stig’s” fast power lap in the VXR8? A quick look on YouTube shows the segment going for seven minutes and 40 seconds, yet on SBS it was on for only roughly five minutes. What is going on? — Top Gear fan and Crikey reader Bruce Hore

Crikey: Bruce, SBS assure us that no alterations were made to the program they received from the BBC. Said an SBS spokeswoman: “With all Top Gear UK episodes SBS shows the BBC international version which is provided by BBC Worldwide who distributes the show. On occasion there are some segments on the UK version of the show which are not cleared for international distribution (usually because of music rights or other international rights issues). SBS always shows the entirety of any episode of Top Gear UK it receives. There was no independent editing from SBS. It’s our highest rating progam with a very passionate fanbase so we are very mindful of showing the program in its entirety.”

 Underbelly prequel greenlighted Channel Nine CEO David Gyngell will officially give the green light to the hugely anticipated Underbelly prequel during a network presentation to media buyers and advertisers tonight. Speaking exclusively to Confidential yesterday, the ironically media-shy boss said that he was “really excited” about the 13-episode series scheduled to begin production in September. “The best television drama always warrants a second season and Underbelly is no exception,” he said. — The Daily Telegraph

Missing the price rise: A production problem at the Australian Financial Review today means that the new $3.00 cover price will not start until tomorrow. Oops! — Australian Newsagency Blog

Now less foreign news than ever before! Almost two-thirds of American newspapers publish less foreign news than they did just three years ago, nearly as many print less national news, and despite new demands on newsrooms like blogs and video, most of them have smaller news staffs, according to a new study. The study, by the Pew Research Center and Tyler Marshall, a former foreign correspondent for The Los Angeles Times , is based on a written survey of the top editors at 259 newspapers of all sizes and interviews with a sampling of those editors. — New York Times

Miley the Sexed-Up Minor Boosts Vanity Fair Sales . Annnie Leibovitz’s outrage-baiting didn’t do much for Vogue, but it helped give Vanity Fair its best-selling issue of the year. The June issue of the Condé Nast-owned glossy, featuring a controversially sexy photoshoot with Hannah Montana star Miley Cyrus, sold 435,000 news stand copies, according to ABC Rapid Report . (Condé Nast also owns Portfolio.) — Portfolio

Leno on his way out  Jay Leno was the surprise guest at the announcement of his own departure date from NBC when he turned up in disguise on Monday to ask the first few (joking) questions at a news conference here with the co-chairmen of NBC Entertainment, Ben Silverman and Marc Graboff. — New York Times

Newspaper massacre Call it the Midsummer Massacre. The last two months have seen a bloodbath at some of America’s largest newspaper publishers, with substantial job cuts hitting a number of papers, including a high proportion of newsroom positions. The scythe has visited McClatchy, Media General, the Tribune Co., the Wall Street Journal, and the Washington Post, among others. Media General got the scythe swinging in late May with its announcement that it would cut 810 positions across its properties in the southeast, with the vast majority falling on its publishing business; just 65 of the positions were in broadcasting or corporate. — MediaPost

Who are the most hated news personalities of all? Not hated for their ideological viewpoints, mind you—we’re talking about the people who are plainly and wholly disliked by their colleagues and overworked staffs. (Note: so many people suggested barely-relevant conservative stick figure Ann Coulter that we figured we’d mention her here and just move on.) To separate the mildly unpopular from the legitimately detested, we polled a number of current and former producers—the people with the best view of the tantrums and shouting matches—as well as some professional TV reporters and had them dish the dirt. In the interest of being fair and balanced, we also asked for the pundits who are popular and well-liked in their newsrooms. Radar Online

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
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