James Warburton, the Chief Sales and Digital Officer of the Seven Media Group, has today been appointed as the new CEO of Ten Network Holdings Ltd. Warburton had been renegotiating his contract at Seven.

UPDATE: Mumbrella report that Warburton will start in the new role on July 14 with a salary of $2.2 million.

Finding a CEO for a company of this size isn’t an easy task with the talent pool quite small. With Wharburton seen as a successor to Leckie at Seven and known to be out of contract, one cannot help but wonder if his availability played a role in last weeks dismissal of Grant Blackley.

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White Noise is convinced that the resignation of James Packer from the Board is the real story to be told here. While the hire of Warburton is an exciting choice, Packers resignation signifies that changes to the multi-channel strategy set in place by Ten last year may well remain intact (to an extent). Did Packer resign because he felt he could not accomplish what he wanted with Ten (ie bumping off One HD)? Or is there something else at play? A falling out with Murdoch? A simple lack of passion for the business? Lack of Board support for his proposed vision?

The media release from Ten:

Ten Network Holdings Limited today announced the resignation of James Packer as a director of the Company, effective immediately.

Ten Network Holdings Limited (‘Ten Holdings’ or ‘the Company’) today announced the appointment of James Warburton as Chief Executive Officer of the Company.

Mr Warburton will commence as Chief Executive Officer on 14 July 2011.

It is intended that Mr Warburton will aso join the Ten Holdings Board.

Ten Holdings Chairman, Brian Long welcomed the appointment and said: “James is a high calibre media executive with an enviable track record in television and digital media sales. He has forged an exemplary reputation in the media sector in Australia and has strong relationships within the media and advertising community.”

“The Company continues to be grateful to Lachlan Murdoch for his commitment in the role of Acting CEO during this period, and for bringing James Warburton to Ten.”

Acting CEO Lachlan Murdoch said: “I am delighted to welcome James to the Ten family. I know James well, and I also know that he will lead this business with great success.”

Mr Warburton has held the role of Chief Sales and Digital Officer of Seven Media Group since July 2008.

A summary of Mr Warburton’s executive services agreement with Ten Holdings is attached.

Ten Holdings today also announced that Group Chief Financial Officer, John Kelly, would be leaving the the Company on 18 March 2011. Paul Anderson, currently Chief Financial Officer – Television, has been appointed Chief Financial Officer of the Company effective 21 March 2011.

Ten Holdings Chairman, Brian Long said: “I would like to thank John Kelly for his service to the Company over the past 15 years, including the past three years in his current role in which he has assisted in leading key financial and operational initiatives.”

Sale ends tomorrow.

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Peter Fray
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