Seven West Media: New divisions and leadership roles in wake of redundancies

Seven - Jeff Howard

Jeff Howard: “To build a better media business and to make the most of the opportunities ahead of us, we need to change the way we think and operate.”

Seven West Media has confirmed the departure of three of its senior executives, naming a number of new appointments and a new operating model in the wake of redundancies and other cost actions at the network.

Under the new model, SWM will have three divisions: Television, Digital, and Western Australia.

Chief revenue officer, Kurt Burnette, chief marketing officer, Melissa Hopkins, and head of sport and managing director of Seven Melbourne, Lewis Martin are confirmed to be exiting the business, with  SWM MD and CEO, Jeff Howard saying he “sincerely thank Kurt, Lewis, and Mel for their contributions to Seven and they leave with our best wishes for the future.”

“Combined they represent more than 65 years of experience at Seven and it is always very disappointing when such changes have to be made. Our focus, however, is on ensuring Seven West Media’s structure matches our strategy to optimise television, deliver our digital future, find new revenue streams and manage our costs responsibly.”

See also: Seven West Media redundancies: Three of network’s top executives exit

Leadership appointments at Seven

Seven’s chief content officer, entertainment programming, Angus Ross, has been appointed Group MD, Seven Television. 

SWM chief digital officer Gereurd Roberts has been appointed Group MD, Seven Digital. 

Maryna Fewster continues as CEO, SWM Western Australia, responsible for SWM’s broadcast, digital and print brands in that market.

Trent Dickeson, currently director of operations and transformation, has been appointed to the new role of chief operating officer. 

Acting chief financial officer Craig Haskins has been appointed chief financial officer.

Previously director of content scheduling, Brook Hall has been appointed as Seven Network’s chief content officer.

Seven Adelaide managing director Vikki Friscic has been appointed head of sales strategy and enablement.

Howard said: “To build a better media business and to make the most of the opportunities ahead of us, we need to change the way we think and operate. That includes changing the way our executive team is structured and how it works together.

“We’re setting up new, accountable and transparent profit centres for our Television and Digital business units. The dedicated, end-to-end digital business unit will make sure we capture all the growth digital is going to deliver. Television and Digital will work very closely with our content teams to ensure we maximise the digital growth opportunity as it develops.  We’re also appointing a chief operating officer to drive continuous improvement and efficiencies.

“We now have three clear divisions covering Television, Digital and WA. They will be supported by executives and teams working across all three to achieve stronger cooperation, consistency and the best possible results for everyone,” he said.

On Tuesday, Seven announced redundancies saw the company axe up to 150 jobs after the network flagged further cost-cutting exercises in February, by then-CFO Jeff Howard and former CEO James Warburton. Howard stepped up to the CEO role of Seven West Media after Warburton officially left the post on April 18.

These redundancies are not limited to any one division, with journalists from the television and print divisions, sales and marketing roles, as well as printing roles to be cut.

News of the job cuts come days after Seven journalist Robert Ovadia was sacked by the network after an internal investigation was conducted into allegations of inappropriate behaviour.

In an interview with The Australian, the Sydney-based crime reporter confirmed he had been fired after 23 years with the network.

“Yes I’ve been sacked and there will be more to say about that in the appropriate forum at the appropriate time,” Ovadia told The Australian.

Other recent exits include Craig McPherson, who stepped down after Seven’s Spotlight program became embroiled in Bruce Lehrmann‘s failed defamation battle against 10 and Lisa Wilkinson. Replacing him in April was Anthony De Ceglie, appointed Seven West Media’s new director of news and current affairs.

In the wake of ex-Spotlight producer Taylor Auerbach‘s evidenceEP Mark Llewellyn also left the network.

Top image: Jeff Howard

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