Today’s $138 million capital raising from the Ten Network is the raising you have when own a program called MasterChef Australia that rates gangbusters and changes the image of the Network, and you’ve just sacked Kyle Sandilands.

It’s the raising you have when you’re looking ahead to 2010, one based on the promise of improved sales and profits, not the current lack of both.

The network says it’s not going broke or approaching the shoals where nasty banks lay in wait. Ten says it’s not in breach of them, despite claims from some brokers to the contrary in the past couple of weeks.

Ten Network Holdings Limited (Ten Holdings) today provided an update on business performance, confirming all earnings guidance provided at the time of its 3Q 2009 results announcement and reiterating previous guidance that it will be within the requirements of its banking covenants at the end of the financial year on 31 August 2009.

Ten Holdings also announced a fully underwritten equity raising of approximately $138 million (representing approximately 12.9% of the current total shares on issue) to be conducted by way of a placement of ordinary shares to professional and sophisticated investors, and eligible international investors.

The Company notes that August banking covenants will be achieved without the inclusion of funds from the equity raising.

Ten Holdings intends to use the proceeds to pay down debt and enhance its balance sheet flexibility. The bookbuild to place 120 million new shares will be conducted at a price of $1.15 per share (representing an 8.4% discount to Ten Holding’s closing price on 3 August 2009). The placement is fully underwritten by Macquarie Capital Advisers Limited.

So unlike an aborted raising in February at 75 cents a share, (aiming for $90 million) this one is being underwritten. It’s marvellous how a program like MasterChef can change hard-bitten bankers and brokers at Macquarie from being sceptics into believers and volunteering to put their money where others might baulk.

The miraculous powers of record TV ratings should not be under-estimated. They can raise a TV Network from the dead (almost) by tapping the secret chef in all of us.

But much was made of MasterChef’s success in the presentation to the market (and the network also said its new sports HD network, ONE, would “Will be profitable in first full year of operation.” (But that’s on an earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation basis). So it will at least be covering its staffing and operating costs.

MasterChef Australia viewership peaked at 4.11m; Most watched non sporting event since OzTAM ratings; Strong and targeted line-up delivered hits of the first half including MasterChef Australia, Merlin, Talkin’ ‘bout Your Generation and Recruits • #1 in prime time demographics of 18-49 and 16-39 • #1 daytime network.

…TEN’s revenue share can be expected to benefit significantly in calendar 2010 with the return of the successful domestic and international line-up, further enhanced by new US offerings such as NCIS:LA, The Good Wife and Glee.

The advertising market remains short and difficult, however comparables are easing.

And Canwest, the basket case masquerading as Ten’s Canadian parent, which got another two week extension at the weekend to keep its life being ended by the death rattle of receivership, won’t pay or play, as it wouldn’t in February’s attempt to raise funds.

So its stake will fall to 50.1%.

But Ten probably could have raised well over $140 million, perhaps as much as $150 million in an issue, such has been the change in sentiment. But that would have seen Canwest’s stake fall below 50.1%, and if that had happened, Canwest would probably be in receivership because it would not have been able to consolidate Ten into its balance sheet and keep its long suffering bankers happy.

Canwest’s lenders still have their foot on the Ten holding and to lower it past 50% probably would have required their consent, which in the present negotiations, wouldn’t have been forthcoming.

And Ten says the money will be used to pay down debt and help its balance sheet.