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MediaWorks loses TV chief as brief Parisian fling comes to an end—UPDATED

MediaWorks has announced that television chief executive Jason Paris, who has been in the role for just over a year after shifting across from TVNZ, has resigned.

MediaWorks group managing director Sussan Turner said at the company’s request Paris will be working through his notice period to ensure the smooth transition of all projects across the television business.  And also to show that Paris made the decision himself and wasn’t pushed.

She will now assume, as part of her group managing director role, head of television responsibilities and senior television management will report to her.

“I am very confident that we have, in our current television management team, the skill and expertise required to guide MediaWorks Television’s future development and growth,” she says. “The Board of Mediaworks want to acknowledge the contribution that Jason has made to the television business.”

Paris, whose main achievements have been greying up the demographic targets of TV3 and launching the new, slightly more mature, more commercial channel FOUR to replace C4, couldn’t be contacted for comment. But he said in a statement: “The television team has achieved a huge amount in a challenging commercial environment. I thank all of them for their hard work and support and wish them all the very best in their ongoing endeavours.”

UPDATE: Jason Paris returned our call but was unable to add much more to the information contained in the release and enlighten us as to the reasons behind the decision, which he “hasn’t taken lightly”.

“It’s more of a courtesy call,” he says. What a nice chap. Must be that Southland upbringing.

Paris, who did say he hasn’t had any overtures from his old employers, seemed genuinely excited about the opportunities in his new role when we spoke to him earlier in the year. And, given what’s been a fairly successful few months, with audience levels up 18 percent, revenue up significantly and Firstline establishing itself as a morning news option, it seems a strange time to leave when things were just starting to pick up.

While Paris was remaining coy, it’s not hard to deduce the reasons for his departure. The parlous financial situation of MediaWorks’ owners Iron Bridge has been well-documented in the media. Cash has been in short supply and cost cutting was the name of the game, as evidenced by the government ‘loan’ for the relicensing of its radio frequencies.

The NBR quoted a dastardly insider as saying the reason for his departure comes down to a bit of a stoush between Paris and IronBridge, which promised to fund a local version of the X-Factor but then tried to back out of the deal.

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