Oz’s hard-up Ten web aims to raise $189 mil

Lachlan Murdoch's broadcaster profits plunge 90%

SYDNEY — Australia’s embattled commercial channel Network Ten is seeking $A200 million ($189 million) from shareholders to raise a war chest for programming to help it ward off further slumps in ratings and advertising revenues.

Third-ranked web, chaired by Lachlan Murdoch, reported a 91% profit plunge last year for a net profit of just $13 million.

Murdoch, casino mogul James Packer and mining magnate Gina Rinehart, Australia’s richest woman, are majority shareholders in Ten.

The move will see new shares issued at a discounted price of 50¢, 20% lower than Tuesday’s closing price of 60¢ when shares were suspended until June 12.

Ten has had a bad year with even the ratings juggernaut “Masterchef Australia” sinking by half a million viewers this year from regular highs of 1.8 million in 2011. Web’s attempt to revamp its morning news skein “Breakfast” also failed.

“Given the uncertain revenue environment and our strategy of investing in programming renewal, the board felt it was important to strengthen our balance sheet at this time,” said Murdoch.

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