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Stokes takes charge at Seven as Mounter ankles

Exec's exit shocks TV biz

SYDNEY — Kerry Stokes took the reins at the Seven Network on Friday after the unexpected ankling of Julian Mounter, whom Stokes hand-picked as managing director and CEO less than a year ago.

The web said Mounter was leaving effective immediately because of “irreconcilable differences which have emerged over a restructuring of the company.” Stokes will become full-time exec chairman.

In a statement following a board meeting in Melbourne, Seven said that “both parties regret the separation, which is over professional rather than personal issues.” The net did not elaborate.

The news shocked TV industry execs and analysts, who had a high regard for Mounter, a seasoned broadcaster whose resume includes a stint as chief exec at Television New Zealand and a senior post at Star TV.

Not surprised

But one analyst, who requested anonymity, said Mounter’s ankling, following the ousting of Seven’s previous CEO, Gary Rice, is consistent with Stokes’ interventionist style.

Seven has been under great pressure to complete a restructuring aimed at shedding staff, cutting costs and boosting ratings and profitability.

The net said the board had reviewed the value of its program library and had decided to adopt a more conservative amortization policy, which will mean taking an additional charge in the 1999 accounts of about $A120 million ($78 million).

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