Why Seven needs a new boss and to be ready for action

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A couple of years after the Amber Harrison affair hit headlines, it appears instead to have been the changing nature of television - and the immediate availability of James Warburton - which has brought an end to Tim Worner's career at Seven West Media.

Last week's announcement that Worner had resigned in favour of Warburton - who had left Seven for Ten years before - comes before next week's financial results, and has already buoyed the share price.

Having stuck with Worner through the adverse publicity of his affair with a former executive assistant, Seven chairman Kerry Stokes seems to has decided the time is right to make a change. "This is an exciting time for Seven as we welcome James back to the company," he said in a statement. "James has extensive experience in the industry with knowledge across media, advertising, sports administration, marketing and particularly sales.

"His passion and energy will reinvigorate the team. We look forward to the contribution he will make."

TV as an industry needs help, and Warburton's contribution will strengthen Seven's grasp of the increasingly important digital side of the business at a time when rival Nine has the input of talent from its Fairfax Media acquisition.

Thanking Stokes and the board for "ongoing support and counsel", Worner said Seven had changed "faster than ever" in recent years. When the Harrison battle moved to the NSW Supreme Court, QC Julian Burnside described the company as "one of the country's biggest boys' clubs" - something which will also have changed, and on the eve of its financial results, business and the need to brush up its demographic is coming first. More important things are at stake.

There's also talk of mergers and acquisitions around town: Seven carried too much debt to grasp the opportunity Nine seized with Fairfax; News fluffed its own TV aspirations by losing Ten to CBS, but plays a long game. So with media law changed to allow it to do so, News seems to hanker for a broadcast company,despite the denials.

And the opportunity of a deal (or deals), Seven needed the kind of change that Warburton could deliver. It could herald an interessting time. What's sad is to see News appearing to use the influence of its national newspaper to whiteant a rival it might want to acquire.

-Peter Coleman

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