Warburton out of step with chairman

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

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

The Ten chief executive, James Warburton, said yesterday the show had "all the right ingredients".

"The actual physical production of that show did not live up to expectations," he told Ten shareholders at the annual meeting.

One way of saying the dance contest schmozzle wasn't the fault of chairman Lachlan Murdoch's wife, Sarah, who fronted the show.

Sadly, Warburton's loyalty to his chairman went unreciprocated on the day, with the former One.Tel director Murdoch 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 2011-12.

Her friend, "Hungry" Jack Cowin, made it to the shareholder shindig on time despite a busy day in which he had to dash across town from a Fairfax board meeting.

Rich advice

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 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 those of newsreader Helen Kapalos, lost from Ten?

She said 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 regular 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 federal government debt as a percentage of gross domestic product is the third lowest of the developed economies, according to 2010 OECD data.

Capital idea

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 inter-web 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 Ten's decision not to webcast the AGM reflects its internet strategy. The Ten flack Neil Shoebridge said it was 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 pads up

Is financially pressed Nathan Tinkler taking up 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, about 7pm on Monday. While that's near his accountant's office, our correspondent suggested the pair, dressed in shirts and slacks but sans tie or jacket, looked more like they might have been off for a beer at one of the nearby drinkeries.

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

Founded in 1852, the august institution has more than 3000 members who live or work in Singapore. How much it costs to join is a bit of a mystery. The price of ordinary membership is available only on application, while corporate membership costs $S75,000 ($59,000).

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 does not count as embarrassing.

Got a tip?

bbutler@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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