Ten still dancing, but not everyone's in step

Ten still dancing, but not everyone's in step

WHOEVER'S fault it was that Ten Network's Everybody Dance Now was a ratings debacle, there's one thing for sure: their name doesn't end in Murdoch.

On Thursday, Ten chief executive James Warburton said the show had "all the right ingredients". "The actual physical production of that show did not live up to expectations," he told shareholders at the struggling network's annual meeting in Sydney. One way of saying the dance contest shemozzle wasn't the fault of chairman Lachlan Murdoch's wife, Sarah, who fronted the short-lived shocker.

Sadly, Warburton's loyalty to his chairman went unreciprocated on the day, with former One.Tel director Lachlan telling shareholders part of Ten's recent trouble had been "poor execution" of its spring TV offerings.

Murdoch was more generous to shareholders, thanking them for sticking by the network during "this difficult period" and apologising on behalf of fellow director Her Roy Hill Highness Gina Rinehart, who was 45 minutes late after getting stuck in traffic.

Rinehart has had difficulty making directorial get-togethers, turning up to just eight of 14 board meetings Ten held in the 2012 financial year. Her friend, "Hungry" Jack Cowin, made it to the shareholder shindig on time despite dashing across town from a Fairfax board meeting.

Gems from Gina

AS TEN rattled the tin for an extra $230 million to pay off a $210 million debt that falls due in March, Rinehart was exhorting households and governments to live within their means.

Australia's richest person used her column on Thursday in Australian Resources and Investment magazine to share her concerns that advertising is down, "and professional jobs are being terminated Australia-wide".

Perhaps a reference to the 100-odd jobs, including that of newsreader Helen Kapalos, lost from Ten?

She said that back in the day almost every Australian home "understood that you had to earn revenue before you could spend it".

"Then you had to make choices: it might be nice to have overseas holidays, but maybe we should renovate the bathroom and/or kitchen, save for a granny flat, et cetera," Rinehart said in her column, published on Thursday.

"Proper planning and allocation within the budget constraints had to occur. This may not be popular, but we need to get back to these basic understandings, and, very importantly for Australia, so do our overspending governments."

Australia's central government debt as a percentage of gross domestic product is the third lowest of the developed economies, according to 2010 OECD data.

Scheduling issues

IT SEEMS the unfortunate timing between Ten's AGM and its capital raising scheme wasn't helping Murdoch.

"If I've said anything positive about the company, it can be ignored," he told shareholders.

While explaining the broadcaster's vision for the future, Murdoch said: "We cannot put our heads in the sand and hope things get better."

Warburton was keen to talk about Ten's young demographic in his presentation.

CBD's agent took the opportunity after the show to ask Warburton what the network's strategy was for that pesky interweb thing the kids are so into these days, but was ignored and ushered away by the company's PR head. Apparently it would be wrong to think that Ten's decision not to webcast the AGM reflects its internet strategy.

Ten flack Neil Shoebridge said the decision not to webcast was made because of the capital raising.

"Information on the raising cannot be distributed in the US, so it couldn't be webcast in case someone in the US tuned in," he said.

Tinkler padded up

IS FINANCIALLY pressed Nathan Tinkler taking up the gentleman's game, cricket?

CBD and others have been unable to locate the coal baronet, but readers have picked up Tinkler's spoor in Singapore, the tax haven he now calls home.

Tinkler and a mate were seen walking by the Singapore River, near the Fullerton Hotel, on Monday evening about 7.

While that's close by his accountant's office, our correspondent suggested the pair, dressed in shirt and slacks but sans tie or jacket, looked more like they might have been off for a beer at one of the drinkeries on nearby Boat Quay.

Another correspondent swears that Tinkler's name last month appeared on the noticeboard at the Singapore Cricket Club, applying for membership of that august institution.

Founded in 1852, the club has more than 3000 members who live or work in Singapore.

How much joining costs is a little bit of a mystery. The price of ordinary membership is available only on application, while corporate membership will set you back $S75,000 (about $A59,000).

Before allowing a new member, the club committee must take into consideration "that the applicant is not an undischarged bankrupt or may embarrass the club in any way by his financial standing".

Let's hope having your private plane and helicopter seized by receivers doesn't count as embarrassing.

Got a tip? bbutler@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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