Ten Network Names Hamish McLennan CEO Replacing James Warburton

Ten Network Holdings Ltd., Australia’s third-biggest television broadcaster, appointed News Corp.’s Hamish McLennan as chief executive officer, replacing James Warburton after a year in the job.

McLennan joins Ten, which counts Asia’s richest woman Gina Rinehart as a board member, from March 18, Sydney-based Ten Network said late yesterday in a statement.

“Ten is a media business with a strong balance sheet and excellent staff,” McLennan, who will remain as chairman of online services provider REA Group Ltd., said according to the statement. “I look forward to leading Ten through a period of creative renewal and financial growth.”

The broadcaster, which airs the U.S. television program “Homeland” and focuses on younger viewers, plunged 53 percent over the past year after twice selling new stock to pay back debt as program flops deterred advertisers.

Ten rose 3.5 percent to 29.5 Australian cents at the close of trading in Sydney yesterday. The broader S&P/ASX 200 index gained 0.8 percent.

“The board would like to thank James Warburton for his hard work and contribution during what has been a difficult period for the company and for the broader media sector,” Chairman Lachlan Murdoch said in the statement.

Rupert Murdoch, the 81-year-old chairman and CEO of New York-based News Corp., once owned Ten. He sold control of the network in 1987 after becoming a U.S. citizen. Lachlan Murdoch, 41, his eldest son who lives in Sydney, and casino billionaire James Packer acquired stakes in 2010. They each own 9 percent, while Rinehart, who has a fortune of $17.9 billion, has a 10 percent stake, according to Ten’s annual report and data compiled by Bloomberg.

Ten has been battling a ratings slump. “Everybody Dance Now,” a talent show hosted by Lachlan Murdoch’s wife, Sarah, debuted in August and was canceled within weeks. “Masterchef Australia” was the only Ten program among Australia’s top 50 shows on free-to-air channels last year, according to data from FreeTV Australia, which represents commercial free-to-air television licensees.