James Warburton, the former chief executive of the Network Ten broadcaster, has been announced as the new CEO of V8 Supercars Australia.
Waburton moves into the position previously held by David Malone, who was sacked just 15 months into his tenure after his protracted and ultimately mishandled attempts to secure a high-income television deal for Australia’s premier tin-top championship.
Given the difficulties that his predecessor faced, Warburton’s appointment will certainly raise eyebrows. Like Malone, Warburton has extensive experience in TV, although he himself had controversial departures from senior posts at both the Seven and Ten networks.
During his nine-year stint with Seven, Warburton was credited with securing a viable commercial deal to broadcast the V8 Supercars Championship from Ten, among a host of other achievements.
Poached by rival Network Ten in 2011, his hiring was the subject of a legal injunction by Seven, who enforced a strict period of ‘gardening leave’ before he took up the post at his new employer.
However, the stint with Network Ten proved shortlived, and he was given the boot after a string of programming flops that saw the channel bleed TV audience and advertising numbers to rival commercial networks.
Despite his previously bumpy career, V8 Supercars Australia went on the offensive in announcing his appointment today and was at pains to stress the benefits his hiring will bring to the category.
“James is an ideal fit for this role given his extensive track record in the television, sales and commercial fields; as well as his strong knowledge of the sport,” said Andrew Gray, of Archer Capital – owner of the championship – in today’s press release.
“He is incredibly well credentialed and enjoys support from a wide cross section of business leaders as the right person for the role.”
“It is a great honour to be leading this sport into its next phase of growth,” added Malone, who will start his new role on 1 June.
“As a life-long fan of the championship I’ve never seen better on track action than the start to the 2013 season and the teams and the sport should be congratulated for the seamless and professional roll out of the car of the future. I can’t wait to rip in.”