We are a week from the start of ratings, and the Seven Network is still rightly congratulating itself for a fabulous Australian Open Tennis broadcast. But emerging from the shadows are reports today that the network’s accountants have got the knives out and hacked into the Seven sports department.

A series of rumours this morning suggested the cost accountants at Seven (directed by executives from equity partner KKR) had cut staff at Seven Sport in Sydney.

Seven has confirmed that a few jobs have gone because of outsourcing.

Other reports say that there has been some sort of tension at the top of the Department and with senior Seven management. 

It is claimed Head of Sport, Saul Shtein’s contract expired a week ago but no one has spoken to him about renewal, while the senior producer and Seven Sport number two, Andy Kay, has been sidelined until his contract expires.

Both oversaw Seven’s award-winning Beijing Games coverage. 

There have been growing claims that Seven would start cost cutting in the wake of the confirmation at last year’s AGM that first-half profits would be up to 50% down. That’s even though Seven took in $14 million more in ad revenues, as Nine and Ten shed $25 million and $73 million each. 

Seven’s higher revenues, though, indicate that it would have lost ad revenues without the added benefit of the ad sales for the Games and the AFL Grand Final. The actual loss hasn’t been quantified, but there are industry suggestions it could be well over $45 million. If it took in all the revenue from the Games and the AFL Grand Final, on top of unchanged ad revenue from the previous year, the total should have been up by more than $60 million in the half-year.

The network was the best performer in ratings and revenue in the back half of the year and has had a very strong summer. 

Late this morning, a Seven spokesman said:

“There have been 3-4 redundancies in sport (couple technical and couple in production) — given economic climate and outsourcing models for some sports production through companies such as Global and Gearhouse. Not correct to speak of resignations or big resignations.”

Seven said both Saul Shtein and Andy Kay are still with the network.

Peter Fray

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