Tim Worner.

Seven West Media CEO Tim Worner has resigned after 25 years with the Seven Network, succeeded immediately by James Warburton.

Today’s announcement was not unexpected by some Seven staffers but the instant handover was a surprise.

The Seven Network’s revenues and ratings have declined this year, particularly in the 7.30 pm slot with My Kitchen Rules and House Rules, and SWM’s share price is languishing.

Warburton was chief digital and sales officer of SWM until being poached to run the Ten network in 2011, prompting a legal battle between the two broadcasters over his non-compete period. He was sacked by the Ten board after little more than a year in the role, succeeded by Hamish McLennan.

Last year he was appointed CEO of APN Outdoor after a four-year stint running V8 Supercars, where he oversaw the broadcast rights deal between Foxtel and Ten. He departed APN Outdoor after eight months after the company was acquired by JCDecaux. Since then he has been running his own consultancy.

The well-regarded Worner has been SWM CEO for six years after serving as CEO of the Seven Network and before that as director of programming and production.

He joined the network in 1995 as executive producer, infotainment, before being promoted to head of sport and later CEO of Seven Productions.

SWM chairman Kerry Stokes said: “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.”

Stokes thanked Worner for his hard work and contribution to the business over many years, observing: “Tim has been a tireless leader at Seven for more than two decades and has been CEO for the past six years. All parties agree now is the time for change. We are fortunate that James was available to commence immediately.”

In a statement Worner said: “It’s with mixed emotion that I tender my resignation; however Seven – a company I love – is a very different company now from the one I joined 25 years ago. It’s changed faster than ever in these last few years and that’s down to the hard work of the best team in the business.”

Warburton said: “I am delighted to be returning to Seven and I am excited about the opportunities that lie ahead to continue to build the business. The foundation of the business is a powerful combination of assets underpinned by outstanding content from Seven Studios, News and our partners in AFL, cricket, horse racing and the Olympic Games.”

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