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Australian public calls for The Project to be AXED amid Channel 10 budget cuts

Australians have called for Channel 10’s current affairs program The Project to be axed, as the network cuts at least 25 jobs in response to the COVID-19 recession.

On Tuesday, The Project and its hosts managed to avoid the swinging axe as the broadcaster announced a dramatic ‘restructuring’ of its news division, with the likes of Kerri-Anne Kennerley, Natarsha Belling and Tim Bailey being made redundant.

But many furious viewers have said that the left-leaning current affairs show, hosted by Waleed Aly and Carrie Bickmore, should have been first on the chopping block. 

The Project has been on the air since 2009 and is hosted on weeknights by Aly, Bickmore and comedian Peter Helliar. Its Sunday edition is hosted by Lisa Wilkinson.

The program also features a variety of regular guest hosts, including Tommy Little, Gorgi Coghlan and Rachel Corbett. 

‘Should have sacked the muppets on The Project instead,’ one furious viewer wrote on Facebook after news of the cuts broke on Tuesday afternoon.

‘Axe the Project, it’s s**t,’ another commented, while a third wrote: ‘Sack The Project.’

‘Now they need to cancel The Project and sack Waleed Aly and they might start getting more viewers,’ one angry viewer posted. 

Despite the uproar, The Project has won several Logie Awards over the years for Most Popular Panel and Most Popular Presenter, which are voted for by the public.

In fact, Aly was awarded the coveted Gold Logie for Most Popular Personality on Australian Television in 2016.

Aly and Bickmore are believed to earn the same annual salary of $500,000.

The Queensland Times reported in 2015 that they had ‘matching deals’ with Channel 10, but this situation may have changed since.

When Wilkinson joined The Project in 2018, her deal with the network was rumoured to be close to $2.3million. 

Despite Channel 10’s news and operations department being ‘restructured’ in response to the sharp decline in advertising revenue, The Project hasn’t been affected by the cuts.

Daily Mail Australia understands this is because network chief Beverley McGarvey considers the show an essential part of the daily schedule.

‘[The Project] will never be cancelled because senior management won’t hear a bad word said against it,’ a source said earlier this year.

‘For some reason, the higher-ups at Channel 10 love it, even though the viewers don’t. It doesn’t rate, it’s expensive to produce and a lot of the publicity it generates is negative.’

At least 25 jobs have been axed at Channel 10 overall, with further redundancies to be announced in the coming weeks, and the changes are expected to be effective from September 14. 

Morning show Studio 10 has been hit the worst, with outspoken panellist Kerri-Anne Kennerley and journalist Natarsha Belling being made redundant. 

Host Sarah Harris and entertainment reporter Angela Bishop are staying, and Denise Drysdale and Denise Scott will continue as contributors.

Narelda Jacobs will remain as newsreader and Jono Coleman will present the advertorial segments as normal. 

Panellist Joe Hildebrand hasn’t lost his job yet, but is understood to be in talks with the network about his future.

As part of the company restructure, the 10 News First weekday operation will be centralised in Sydney and Melbourne, and the network will move to a national weekday weather model fronted by Tim Bailey’s to-be-announced replacement.

Sydney, Brisbane and Perth will all host their news bulletins out of Sydney, while Melbourne and Adelaide will be based out of Melbourne.

Sandra Sully and Matt Burke will host the Sydney and Brisbane bulletins, and Jennifer Keyte and Stephen Quartermain will host the Melbourne and Adelaide edition.

A new team will be announced to host the Perth news. 

Channel 10’s network director of news content, Ross Dagan, said in a statement about the job cuts: ‘The decision to make these changes was a very difficult one and I want to express my sincere thanks and gratitude to our friends and colleagues who will leave the network. 

‘It is in no way a reflection of their talent, contribution or passion. They are exceptionally gifted people. We are incredibly proud of them and their work. There is no doubt they will be missed.

‘These painful changes reflect the state of the media industry in recent years and the need for all media companies to achieve new efficiencies.

‘While our viewers in Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth will see some on-air changes, we will continue to produce local news and employ local reporters, camera operators and production staff in those cities.’

Beverley McGarvey, Channel 10’s chief content officer, added: ‘These decisions are not being made lightly; however, they are essential to future-proofing our business.’

The decision to axe 25 staff members comes three months after the broadcaster announced the closure of its news website 10 Daily. 

Some of the job cuts will come as a surprise to viewers.

Tim Bailey, for example, is considered a legend at the network, and has been a familiar face for more than 30 years.

He is being replaced by another meteorologist as Channel 10 moves to a national weekday weather model.

Kennerley is a more recent hire, having only joined the Studio 10 panel in September 2018. 

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