It was only a matter of time. Network Ten has earlier today announced that it will axe its much-derided morning show Breakfast at the end of the month.
The final edition is scheduled for Friday, 30 November — the last weekday of the 2012 ratings season.
The decision to axe the program comes after months of disastrously low ratings — some days getting less than 30,000 viewers nationally, compared to Sunrise and Today that would average more than ten times that each — and public dissent over the hiring of outspoken New Zealand broadcaster Paul Henry (pictured).
Henry and co-host Kathryn Robinson will be made redundant while weather presenter Magdalena Roze will stay at the network. Andrew Rochford, who was part of the show’s initial presenting line-up, left the show back in June along with founding producer Majella Wiemers.
Despite the cancellation of Breakfast, Ten says it is committed to breaking into the breakfast TV market currently dominated by Sunrise and Today. A replacement program or format should appear sometime in 2013.
As well as Breakfast, Ten is in the process of losing around 100 news room staff as voluntary and forced redundancies make their way through the organisation as part of an operational review.
Ten has also axed its Ten Morning News bulletin, launched in August following the axing of The Circle, while newsreader Ron Wilson, who has been with Ten since 1982, has also been cut from the network.
The cuts to the news department have also claimed some high profile names as Ten News At Five moves to a standard single-newsreader format. Sydney newsreader Bill Woods — after more than 20 years — and Perth newsreader Craig Smart have both been dropped from the network. Their exit follows the abrupt dismissal of Melbourne newsreader Helen Kapalos (pictured) after the close of last Friday’s bulletin on the eve of a planned holiday.
Kapalos’ former on-air partner Mal Walden, who was earlier tipped to be planning retirement, was recently re-signed by the network. He signed off from tonight’s Ten News At Five with a very diplomatic “that’s Ten News for now, probably more that could be said, now is not the time.”
In a period where Ten is often trailing behind ABC in nightly ratings shares it is either brave or foolish to be meddling with the flagship 5.00pm news bulletin that has a decent and consistent audience, often topping their nightly ratings even though it airs out of prime time.
No mention has been made of the status of Ten’s other news and current affairs programs Ten Late News, Meet The Press and The Bolt Report — though Late News presenter Hamish Macdonald has been announced as host of a new current affairs program to launch next year.
Network Ten recently announced a full-year loss of just under $13 million after a string of ratings and critical flops — most notably recent launches Everybody Dance Now, The Shire, Being Lara Bingle, Don’t Tell The Bride and I Will Survive.
Ten Network Holding shares are currently at around 28 cents, down from around $1.30 two years ago.