Seven West Media is in the midst of the third round of cost-cutting as TV advertising revenues tumble but the network isn’t cutting its overall spending on programs.
That assurance came today from SWM CEO Tim Worner during SPA’s Screen Forever conference.
“Each time we have been able to ring fence our investment in content,” Worner said in conversation with the Australian Financial Review’s Dominic White.
“We are making the same amount of stuff but we are making it smarter. We are doing what we can to produce the same level of content.”
But as an example of the cost-pressures facing the network, he said it cancelled A Place to Call Home despite consistently healthy ratings because “we could not support that level of expenditure on the show. It did not make sense for us.”
He said he’s proud a third season of the period drama from Seven Productions has been commissioned by Foxtel.
He added that he would “kill” for another show in the vein of Packed to the Rafters and, asked to nominate the 2015 local dramas he most looks forward to, he reluctantly nominated Winter, the murder mystery starring Rebecca Gibney which is the follow-up to The Killing Field.
Seven is screening 180 first-run hours of Australian drama and 59 hours of documentaries this year, he said.
Seeking to dispel the notion the network favours in-house productions, he said Seven always looks for great ideas and “I don’t care where they come from”
Worner would not be drawn on well-founded speculation that SWM is on the verge of signing a deal to partner Foxtel on its SVoD service Presto but said Seven would bring a lot to a streaming service with the content it produces and acquires and the marketing muscle of the broadcasting, newspaper and magazine group which collectively reaches 16 million people per month.
.But he had sobering news for any producers who were hoping SVoD rights would be a money-spinner for them. “The pie is the pie; there is no extra money for SVoD rights,” he said.