In a surprise move, the Ten Network announced this morning that Lachlan Murdoch has been elected chairman, with Brian Long, Ten’s existing chairman, becoming deputy chairman and lead independent director. Will the announcement similarly surprise our apparently dozing media regulator, ACMA? The news should rule out speculation from News Limited’s Mark Day that Murdoch will become chairman of the family empire, replacing dad Rupert.

It means the man who head-hunted James Warburton from Seven a year ago to become CEO is now the chairman of the network, all on less than 10% of the company. In fact, Murdoch “announced” in today’s statement that Warburton had joined the TEN board as managing director.

Justifying the change, Long said: “The Board is pleased that Lachlan has agreed to accept the role of Non-Executive Chairman. His extensive media experience will provide TEN with invaluable strategic leadership. As Interim CEO he reset TEN’s strategic vision and cost base and was instrumental in recruiting TEN’s new Chief Executive Officer, James Warburton. The Board believes that the combined media capability of James Warburton as TEN’s Chief Executive Officer and Lachlan Murdoch as Non-Executive Chairman provides the best opportunity for value creation for all shareholders.”

There was no explanation as to why the change in chairmanship was made or any other explanation. The roles of James Packer, who owns around 9%, but is not on the Ten board, and Gina Rinehart, who owns just under 10%, were not mentioned. But for the change to happen, they had to have approved of the move, as did Bruce Gordon (owner of regional broadcaster WIN), who owns around 14% of Ten. — Glenn Dyer

Peter Fray

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