James Warburton resigns as Seven CEO

James Warburton to depart Seven in 2024, to be replaced by Jeff Howard, currently Chief Financial Officer.

James Warburton has resigned as CEO and Managing Director of Seven West Media, to take effect by the end of June 2024, after what will be some 5 years in the role.

He will be replaced by Jeff Howard, currently Chief Financial Officer.

“It has been an incredible journey at SWM and with an exceptionally talented team in place, the time is right for the company to take the next step. I take great pride in the transformation of SWM in recent years and its position as the leader in total TV in both ratings and revenue,” said Warburton.

“A significant improvement in the balance sheet and digital earnings, underpinned by long-term AFL and cricket TV and streaming rights, and the acquisition of Prime have given the company a very strong future. I’ve now spent more than 15 years of my professional life working for Seven (in two stints) and I’d like to thank Kerry and Ryan Stokes, the other Directors and our major shareholders for the wonderful opportunity and their support.

“Jeff is an extremely talented leader and the transition to him will be seamless. I can’t think of a better person to lead the best media executive team in the business. While I look forward to the next chapter in my career, I am confident I am leaving SWM in excellent hands,” he said.

Kerry Stokes AC, Chairman of Seven West Media thanked Mr Warburton for his contribution to the business over many years.

“On behalf of the Board and our people, I would like to thank James for his energy, enthusiasm and outstanding contribution. James came to SWM at a difficult time and has been immensely successful in reinvigorating Seven’s ratings, strengthening the balance sheet and setting Seven up for future success,” he said.

Of incoming CEO Jeff Howard he said, “Jeff has an immense depth of experience and exposure across the broad media industry and the right balance of skills to deal with a dynamic and evolving media landscape. Having worked as SWM’s Chief Financial Officer since January 2020, he is well positioned to continue the momentum created by James. His commercial knowledge, passion and commitment will ensure a strong performance focus at this critical time of change and innovation for the industry.”

Mr Howard added: “I am delighted to be taking on the role of Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, having worked with James for a number of years. James is leaving SWM in a strong position to take advantage of the opportunities that lie ahead. As we look to the next phase of growth in an ever-changing industry, our focus is on continuing to create great content to be the most connected news, sport and entertainment brand in Australia, while driving value for shareholders. Our strategy of premium audience generation and engagement across all of SWM’s platforms will remain at the forefront of everything we do.”

The transition will be effective on or before 30 June 2024. The search for a new SWM Chief Financial Officer has commenced.

11 Responses

    1. Warburton was CEO of 10 in 2012, replacing Lachlan Murdoch (who became as non exec chairman)
      Warburton was at Channel 7 as sales director from 2003-10. JW did a second stint at seven as CEO from 2019-24.

  1. Hi Channel 7 may be the most watched television network but apart from the AFL, Front Bar and the 6 pm news our family do not watch 7 as we find it far too Sydney centric. The AFL helps seven during the winter months and yet very little of what channel 7 offers comes out of other cities, almost everything on 7 comes out of Sydney which for other cities is a real turnoff.

  2. He returned to Seven for his second stint in 2019 in an elevated position at a time where tough decisions had to be made across the board and that is always a tough caper. He succeeded and should stand tall and proud. I wish him all the best with his next adventure/s.

    1. I tend to agree. More than halved their debt while at the same time securing Prime. He came in at a time where 7s market cap was plus or minus the sum of their parts (in other words, a zombie company) and seven I think had just lost the tennis. His legacy (aside from debt reduction and Prime) includes securing cricket and AFL in long term deals with streaming (both AFL and cricket seemed seriously reluctant to give this up). Decent success with Voice, Farmer and 1% (and sort of SAS). All the while maintaining success stories with their programming spine of morning, late morning and prime time news and H&A. Yes some good fortune (Matilda’s and Tokyo Olympics much bigger than presumed) but I do find it incredulous when critics say “if not for the afl, news (and all the other programs which rate) seven would be unsuccessful.” The point is they have enough good programming to win both in the ratings and in revenue share. From what he inherited, more than decent.

  3. Was this known around the time of Seven Upfronts or tightly held?

    The ratings year might be done, but it’s still early December so big stories can still float around.

    If this was announced tomorrow, I’d say it’s almost Fridays taking out the trash day (TWW).

  4. This is a complete shock. James Warburton has done great work for Seven and was mentored by the late great David Leckie. James has made Seven competitive when he assumed the role of Managing Director. All the best to his successor.

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