Top Seven execs gone as axe swings, Seven restructures.

Updated: Three top execs depart as Seven restructures into Television, Digital and Western Australia divisions, plus a new Chief Content appointment.

High ranking Seven executives have departed in a network-wide restructure which could impact as many as 150 positions under new Seven CEO Jeff Howard.

The Australian Financial Review reports Chief Revenue Officer Kurt Burnette (pictured left)  and Lewis Martin (centre) Head of Sport and Managing Director of Seven Melbourne, are the highest profile exits. Chief Marketing Officer Melissa Hopkins (pictured right) will also reportedly depart.

Kurt Burnette has worked for Seven since 1990, Lewis Martin joined in 1994 becoming General Manager at HSV7 and adding Head of Sport during a range of job cuts in 2019. Melissa Hopkins joined Seven last May from Optus.

They comprise a third of the Seven Executive Team.

Lewis Martin said, “I have loved everything about my time at Seven and in the media, primarily the wonderful people I have worked with, and competed against.”

The Sydney Morning Herald on Tuesday revealed Seven’s plans to cut up to 150 jobs, across television, print and digital, during punishing advertising market conditions and the end of a multimillion-dollar deal with tech giant Meta, estimated to be worth about $15 million annually.

The exits follow the recent News divison departures of Craig McPherson, Mark Llewellyn, Neil Warren, Sydney chief of staff Andrew Frampton and reporters Robert Ovadia and Cameron Baud.


Seven West Media today announced the introduction of a new operating model comprising three divisions: Television, Digital and Western Australia.

Seven’s Chief Content Officer, Entertainment Programming, Angus Ross, has been appointed Group MD, Seven Television.

SWM Chief Digital Officer Gereurd Roberts takes on the new role of Group MD, Seven Digital.

Maryna Fewster continues as CEO, SWM Western Australia, responsible for broadcast, digital and print brands in that market.

Seven confirmed the departures of  Chief Revenue Officer Kurt Burnette, Chief Marketing and Audience Officer Melissa Hopkins, and Head of Network Sport and Melbourne Managing Director, Lewis Martin.

Trent Dickeson, currently Director of Operations and Transformation, has been appointed to the new role of Chief Operating Officer. Acting Chief Financial Officer Craig Haskins has been appointed Chief Financial Officer.

SWM Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Jeff Howard, said: “To build a better media business and to make the most of the opportunities ahead of us, we need to change the way we think and operate. That includes changing the way our executive team is structured and how it works together.

“We’re setting up new, accountable and transparent profit centres for our Television and Digital business units. The dedicated, end-to-end digital business unit will make sure we capture all the growth digital is going to deliver. Television and Digital will work very closely with our content teams to ensure we maximise the digital growth opportunity as it develops.  We’re also appointing a Chief Operating Officer to drive continuous improvement and efficiencies.

“We now have three clear divisions covering Television, Digital and WA. They will be supported by executives and teams working across all three to achieve stronger cooperation, consistency and the best possible results for everyone,” he said.

“I’d like to sincerely thank Kurt, Lewis and Mel for their contributions to Seven and they leave with our best wishes for the future. Combined they represent more than 65 years of experience at Seven and it is always very disappointing when such changes have to be made. Our focus, however, is on ensuring Seven West Media’s structure matches our strategy to optimise television, deliver our digital future, find new revenue streams and manage our costs responsibly.

“In his 34 years at Seven, Kurt played a key role in building the best Sales team in the business, leading us to market leading revenue share, and bringing important innovations to market for our clients. He has also championed the industry’s adoption of total TV and converged trading, which are critical to our future,” Mr Howard said.

“Across three decades at Seven and most recently as head of sport, Lewis and his team have made Seven the first choice for Australians when it comes to sport on TV, be it AFL, Cricket, Supercars, the Olympics, the Commonwealth Games or any of the many other sports across the screens of Seven. They are the reason Seven is Australia’s home of sport. Lewis was also a vital part of our work with the Big Freeze and the Royal Children’s Hospital Telethon.

“Melissa made a significant difference to the way Seven takes itself to market and how we talk to both viewers and advertisers. In 15 months, she built a new marketing and creative team, led key marketing and brand initiatives and helped refocus Seven as a digital first business,” he said.

Other management changes announced today include the appointment of Brook Hall (pictured) as Seven Network’s Chief Content Officer; he was previously Seven’s Director of Content Scheduling. Seven Adelaide Managing Director Vikki Friscic takes on the newly created role of Head of Sales Strategy and Enablement.

As part of the changes, Seven advised “a number of redundancies and other cost actions are being taken.”

14 Responses

  1. Yeah, 3 execs go, but so do 147 other people! The constant contraction across the entire industry is beginning to get worrying. But 7 is now run by a bean counter so this is probably the first of a few rounds of redundancies (although they’re probably not redundant roles, everyone else just has to pick up the slack!)

    1. There is a reason why they have had to get a “bean counter”. Obviously, previously the business has not been run well and this is the consequence…

  2. Seven is finally starting to prune from the top. They’ve sold all land (now renting rather than owning premises in most states), layed off a good deal of their loyal staff, outsourced absolutely everything they can, and now finally addressing the over-supply of highly-paid big cats at the top.

  3. perhaps we will finally have a brand new look & sound for this old & stale network starting with its logo and using the same old news title music.

    1. Am not sure the logo is the problem. Purely from a ratings point of view, seven appears to be doing ok – their spine of morning and prime time news is solid; H&A very consistent; AFL does well and their prime time shows do ok (MAFS and the block are tough competition) with the voice, Australia idol etc rating solidly. Big brother perhaps not. Tipping point is consistently stronger than the chase but it’s still rates well. Based on overnight national weekly results, seven are I think up 12 – 5 on nine. But the revenue pie is being splintered across so many now. Will be interesting to see if this upsets their momentum. Nine heading into SOO #2 and soon the Olympics and para Olympics and then the block….seven have the AFL finals and very strong summer of cricket against India to come. I guess they reckon they need seriously fresh thinking.

        1. Seven excluded them while broadcasting the Olympics. But nine appear to be winning in the all important advertising friendly 5 metro which I’m sure they’ll draw attention to.

    2. I distinctively remember Seven News making a huge change to its theme music in 2014 which was received so poorly by viewers, they had to reinstate the old version/s within days. Although they didn’t learn their lesson as the undercooked current theme music package was launched in 2016.

      Even if Seven weren’t making huge cutbacks, I’d think the chances of a major network brand relaunch on the scale of Ten in 2018 (or Nine in 2006/08) in the current media climate are very slim to none.

      BTW it’s Robert Ovadia, not Mark.

      One wonders though if there’s any credence to those rumours lesser media outlets were reporting a month or two back, which suggested that either Mark Ferguson or Michael Usher could possibly be shown the door soon.

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