How Channel 10 went woke… and could now go BROKE – as execs tell staff to work on Australia Day

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Channel 10 has prioritised political correctness over programming in recent years – and the result has been nothing short of disastrous.

Once a thriving commercial operation, the U.S.-owned network is now losing viewers hand over fist in response to the influx of left-leaning content.

Now, as rumours now swirl the network could be axed altogether, we take a look at how going ‘woke‘ sent Channel 10 looking down the barrel of going broke.

How Channel 10 went woke… and could now go BROKE – as execs tell staff to work on Australia Day

Channel 10 has prioritised political correctness over programming in recent years – and the result has been nothing short of disastrous. (Pictured: former The Project host Lisa Wilkinson)

Eyebrows were raised in June last year when a network boss vowed to steer Channel 10’s programming in a more ‘woke’ direction to capitalise on its younger audience. 

The network’s head of sales, Rod Prosser, said at a meeting with advertisers that Ten’s upcoming slate of shows would prioritise ‘social justice, equality and inclusion’ to meet the expectations of its ‘purpose-driven’ consumers, reported RT.

While Channel 10 has a much smaller audience than its commercial rivals, Mr Prosser said its viewers were still valuable to brands because they have ‘more income’ and are ‘more socially progressive’ compared to Australians who watch Nine and Seven.

Eyebrows were raised in June last year when a network boss vowed to steer Channel 10's programming in a more 'woke' direction to capitalise on its younger audience. Pictured: The Project host Waleed Aly (left) and former host Carrie Bickmore (right)

Eyebrows were raised in June last year when a network boss vowed to steer Channel 10’s programming in a more ‘woke’ direction to capitalise on its younger audience. Pictured: The Project host Waleed Aly (left) and former host Carrie Bickmore (right)

‘We are acutely aware of our ability to influence culture, which raises a number of questions about our responsibility,’ said Mr Prosser.

‘How can we better promote and employ social justice, equality and inclusion? How can we represent all Australians and their stories? How can we raise the conversation and now lower the bar? These are questions of integrity and to us, integrity matters.’ 

While this ‘socially progressive’ pitch may attract some like-minded brands, industry insiders feared a shift to the left could negatively impact 10’s bottom line, as ‘getting woke’ can often lead to ‘going broke’ in the corporate world.

The network's head of sales, Rod Prosser, said during a meeting with advertisers in June last year that 10's upcoming slate of shows would prioritise 'social justice, equality and inclusion' to meet the expectations of its 'purpose-driven' consumers. Pictured: MasterChef judges Jock Zonfrillo (left), Melissa Leong (centre) and Andy Allen (right)

The network’s head of sales, Rod Prosser, said during a meeting with advertisers in June last year that 10’s upcoming slate of shows would prioritise ‘social justice, equality and inclusion’ to meet the expectations of its ‘purpose-driven’ consumers. Pictured: MasterChef judges Jock Zonfrillo (left), Melissa Leong (centre) and Andy Allen (right)

In this case, the younger ‘woke’ audience Channel 10 was hoping to appeal to may have already migrated away from free-to-air TV in favour of streaming platforms.

The move was criticised by Seven CEO James Warburton, who said Ten’s ‘integrity’-led strategy was ‘clutching at straws’ in a bid to win over advertisers.

‘Three odd million people watch the Seven and Nine news brands every single night; that absolutely dwarfs everything they do,’ Mr Warburton told The Australian Financial Review at the time.

Meanwhile, 10's political shift is in keeping with a recent trend toward 'wokeness' at parent company ViacomCBS, which coincidentally saw its stocks plummet in March 2020. (Pictured: The Project's former host Carrie Bickmore)

Meanwhile, 10’s political shift is in keeping with a recent trend toward ‘wokeness’ at parent company ViacomCBS, which coincidentally saw its stocks plummet in March 2020. (Pictured: The Project’s former host Carrie Bickmore)

‘They program for 90 minutes a day; they’re irrelevant in the back end of the week. Their biggest franchise [MasterChef] just halved. That just sounds desperate.’

Meanwhile, 10’s political shift is in keeping with a recent trend toward ‘wokeness’ at parent company ViacomCBS, which saw its stocks plummet in March 2020. 

In April 2021, the U.S. media conglomerate signed a deal with #MeToo activist Tarana Burke to make shows that ‘highlight underrepresented voices’.

And in July 2020, it began a multi-year partnership with civil rights group NAACP. 

Channel 10 stayed true to its strategy of appealing to social justice-minded viewers in July last year by replacing the names of Australian cities with traditional Aboriginal names in weather bulletins.  

The network removed colonial place names in a Sunday night forecast to mark the beginning of NAIDOC week – a national event that celebrates the history and culture of Indigenous people.

Traditional names for cities across the country were changed on a map during the forecast, and by weather presenter Amanda Jason.

Bulletins presented by news anchor Narelda Jacobs (pictured) also shifted away from the norm to include Indigenous names

Bulletins presented by news anchor Narelda Jacobs (pictured) also shifted away from the norm to include Indigenous names

‘Now the first Sunday of July is the first day of NAIDOC week to acknowledge the traditional custodians of this land,’ she said.

‘We acknowledge the traditional names of our capital cities for our national weather.’

Bulletins presented by news anchor Narelda Jacobs also shifted away from the norm to include Indigenous names.

‘We’re acknowledging traditional place names and I’ll begin in the city that we’re coming to you from: Warrang, Sydney, in Gadigal country,’ Jacobs said.

Channel 10 ventured further into woke territory in February, after it was announced the latest season of Australian Survivor would introduce 'de-gendered' language. (Pictured: Survivor host Jonathan LaPaglia)

Channel 10 ventured further into woke territory in February, after it was announced the latest season of Australian Survivor would introduce ‘de-gendered’ language. (Pictured: Survivor host Jonathan LaPaglia)

While some viewers applauded the network for teaching them about the traditional names of Australian cities, others were left frustrated and confused. 

‘Can you put both names for those who don’t read another language? I had to switch channels,’ one viewer wrote on social media.

‘Not sure where I live now?’ added another.

Channel 10 ventured further into woke territory in February, after it was announced the latest season of Australian Survivor would introduce ‘de-gendered’ language.

The word ‘guys’ was officially banned from the cast’s lexicon, meaning that host Jonathan LaPaglia had to change his iconic catch-phrase: ‘Come on in, guys.’

The ‘gendered’ phrase, which is considered by some as sexist, has been used by LaPaglia to welcome contestants into challenges since the show’s inception in 2016.

'With the ever growing conversation around inclusivity, it was a natural progression to adapt our language to reflect this,' LaPaglia told The Daily Telegraph at the time

‘With the ever growing conversation around inclusivity, it was a natural progression to adapt our language to reflect this,’ LaPaglia told The Daily Telegraph at the time 

‘With the ever growing conversation around inclusivity, it was a natural progression to adapt our language to reflect this,’ LaPaglia told The Daily Telegraph at the time.   

‘The U.S. has also adopted a similar change,’ he added. 

Indeed, Survivor USA host Jeff Probst also officially stopped using the line, ‘Come on in, guys’, during last year’s season. 

During an episode, Jeff asked the teams: ‘In the context of Survivor, is a word like “guys” okay? Or is it time to retire that word?’

One contestant agreed the term was ‘uncomfortable’ and in the spirit of inclusivity, Jeff agreed to retire it. 

He had previously used the phrase for a whopping 40 seasons. 

The word 'guys' was discussed by the host of the U.S. version, Jeff Probst (pictured), during last year's season. He announced he'd no longer refer to the contestants as 'guys' from now on

The word ‘guys’ was discussed by the host of the U.S. version, Jeff Probst (pictured), during last year’s season. He announced he’d no longer refer to the contestants as ‘guys’ from now on

Struggling talk show Studio 10 has also seen a shift towards more politically progressive content in recent years.

In September this year, American nonbinary activist, comedian and poet Alok Vaid-Menon appeared appeared the show to discuss gender nonconformity and the importance of comedy that doesn’t offend marginalised groups.

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Speaking to presenter Narelda Jacobs, Alok explained how ‘most comedians have become ambassadors for the status quo’ when they should be ‘championing change’.

Jacobs, who is Indigenous and openly gay, praised Alok for championing social justice, saying: ‘Alok, I love you so much, I can’t get enough.’ 

Studio 10 has taken a shift to the left politically since 2020. (Pictured: American nonbinary activist and poet Alok Vaid-Menon being interviewed on Studio 10 in September)

Studio 10 has taken a shift to the left politically since 2020. (Pictured: American nonbinary activist and poet Alok Vaid-Menon being interviewed on Studio 10 in September)

Jacobs also sparked debate in September when she called for the monarchy to apologise for its colonisation of First Nations people following the death of Queen Elizabeth II.

In a segment about the Queen’s death on Studio 10, she described the British monarchy as a ‘symbol of colonisation’ and asked what had been done by the modern-day Royal Family to ‘make up for that’.

Her request was met with support from some progressive Australians but also backlash from Britons who feel they do not owe Aboriginal people an apology for the actions of their ancestors more than 200 years ago. 

Narelda Jacobs, who is openly gay, praised Alok for championing social justice, saying: 'Alok, I love you so much, I can't get enough'

Narelda Jacobs, who is openly gay, praised Alok for championing social justice, saying: ‘Alok, I love you so much, I can’t get enough’ 

Former Studio 10 star Kerri-Anna Kennerley has been a vocal critic of the show’s shift towards the left. 

In November, she told Woman’s Day it was ‘sad’ to see Studio 10 become an insufferable woke-fest after she was sacked from the show two years ago.

Kennerley was given her marching orders in August 2020 as Network Ten desperately tried to cut costs during the Covid pandemic. 

Jacobs also sparked debate in September when she called for the monarchy to apologise for its colonisation of First Nations people following the death of Queen Elizabeth II

Jacobs also sparked debate in September when she called for the monarchy to apologise for its colonisation of First Nations people following the death of Queen Elizabeth II 

Her departure from the show coincided with Studio 10’s content becoming more politically progressive, as well as a steep decline in ratings.

‘I don’t know what got into producers’ minds. They all got scared. They’ve chickened out, in my view,’ she said.

‘When I was on Studio 10, I really felt like we were getting better and better each week. 

Former Studio 10 star Kerri-Anna Kennerley (pictured) has been a vocal critic of the show's shift towards the left

Former Studio 10 star Kerri-Anna Kennerley (pictured) has been a vocal critic of the show’s shift towards the left 

‘I think in the 18 months I was there, they got more traction and more press than they ever did in the previous five or six years.’

She continued: ‘And if I’d produced it, I would have doubled down. I would have said, ‘Okay, let’s go further, let’s go more controversial.”

While it was never in competition with Nine’s Today Extra or Seven’s The Morning Show, Studio 10 once had a loyal audience of over-50s who tuned in each morning to watch the panel debate news events from a range of political perspectives.

In November, Kennerley told Woman's Day it was 'sad' to see Studio 10 become an insufferable woke-fest after she was sacked from the show two years ago

In November, Kennerley told Woman’s Day it was ‘sad’ to see Studio 10 become an insufferable woke-fest after she was sacked from the show two years ago

But its ratings have been in freefall over the last two years after ditching the panel in favour of a two-anchor format helmed by Sarah Harris and Tristan MacManus.

This move has baffled many industry insiders given that Studio 10’s core audience is older, more conservative Australians who still watch daytime TV.

It comes amid controversy surrounding an email sent by Channel 10 bosses about Australia Day.

Entertainment reporter Peter Ford joined the pile-on, tweeting: 'Channel 10 really needs to devote more time to programming and less to virtue signalling'

Entertainment reporter Peter Ford joined the pile-on, tweeting: ‘Channel 10 really needs to devote more time to programming and less to virtue signalling’

The email, sent to all editorial and programming staff last week, said employees could come to work instead of taking the day off. 

Parent company Paramount ANZ’s chief content officer Beverley McGarvey and co-lead Jarrod Villani referred to Australia Day only as ‘January 26’ in the memo. 

The pair told staff it was ‘not a day of celebration’ for Indigenous people and said employees could decide whether they wished to take the day off as a public holiday or work if they preferred.

Commentator Rob McKnight pointed out the network is run by an Irish-born woman, Beverley McGarvey, and its parent company Paramount is American

Commentator Rob McKnight pointed out the network is run by an Irish-born woman, Beverley McGarvey, and its parent company Paramount is American 

‘At Paramount ANZ we aim to create a safe place to work where cultural differences are appreciated, understood and respected,’ the pair wrote in the email, The Australian’s Media Diary column reported.

2GB radio host Mark Levy has blasted the media company’s decision and questioned if Channel 10 should instead focus on lifting its abysmal ratings, with the network well behind its rivals at Nine and Seven with a network share of just 22.1 per cent. 

‘So, let me get this straight,’ commentator Rob McKnight tweeted. ‘A TV company owned by Americans and run by an Irish woman (Beverley McGarvey) are telling us what to think about our national day?’ 

Entertainment reporter Peter Ford also joined the pile-on, tweeting: ‘Channel 10 really needs to devote more time to programming and less to virtue signalling.’ 

Other Aussies simply called for a ‘boycott’ of the company.

Australia Day marks the landing of the First Fleet in Sydney Cove in 1788 and raising of the Union flag by Arthur Phillip.  

Controversy has surrounded the celebration of Australia Day in recent years, with many calling for the date to be changed in respect of Indigenous Australians. (Pictured: young women celebrating Australia Day on the Gold Coast this year)

Controversy has surrounded the celebration of Australia Day in recent years, with many calling for the date to be changed in respect of Indigenous Australians. (Pictured: young women celebrating Australia Day on the Gold Coast this year)

Meanwhile, Channel 10 has been struggling in the ratings with questions now being raised about the station’s viability.

Things are so bad the network was forced to cancel its annual Christmas Party, as first revealed by Daily Mail Australia.

The struggling organisation is now officially Australia’s fourth free-to-air network after being placed behind the ABC in the latest ratings race.

Channel 10 has been struggling in the ratings with questions now being raised about the station's viability. (Pictured: The Project host Hamish Macdonald)

Channel 10 has been struggling in the ratings with questions now being raised about the station’s viability. (Pictured: The Project host Hamish Macdonald)

Last week, Channel 10 recorded its lowest commercial share since OzTam ratings began with a network share of just 22.1 per cent, well behind its rivals at Nine and Seven. 

While spin doctors sprout the network has a younger audience than its competitors, Nine and Seven both beat 10 in total people and their key under 50 demographic.

A string of failures has only added to its woes. Shows like The Real Love Boat, The Challenge Australia and The Traitors were all flops.

The Bachelor franchise has failed to fire over the past few years and the newest edition, The Bachelors, was considered so bad by programming bosses it has been bumped to January. 

The Bachelor franchise has failed to fire over the past few years and the newest edition - The Bachelors - was considered so bad by programming bosses it has been bumped to January

The Bachelor franchise has failed to fire over the past few years and the newest edition – The Bachelors – was considered so bad by programming bosses it has been bumped to January

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