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Ten shares hammered on $157m loss

AAP logoAAP 19/10/2016 Stuart Condie

Investors have wiped almost $100 million from the value of the Ten Network after another big writedown in the value of its television licence dragged it to an annual loss of $157 million.

Shares in Australia's third-placed free-to-air broadcaster dropped 19 per cent after Ten wrote down the value of its licence by $135.2 million.

Chief executive Paul Anderson called for the government to further reduce the amount networks have to pay for broadcast licences and said regulatory uncertainty is stifling decision making and investment in domestic content.

The networks have long lobbied for a big cut to licence fees to help them compete against the likes of Netflix, but the government this year reduced them by just 25 per cent.

"Increased competition from untaxed and unregulated providers is bringing major challenges," Mr Anderson said.

"In order to continue investing billions in a strong Australian voice on screen, this sector urgently needs a significant reduction in television licence fees."

Shares in Ten fell 27 cents to $1.15, reducing its market value by $98 million to $416 million.

The writedown in the licence was the biggest single hit to Ten's bottom line, which showed the network's full year loss had halved from a year ago.

Underlying earnings came in at $4.5 million, a turnaround from a $12 million earnings loss a year earlier.

A tie-up with Foxtel's Multi Channel Network that came into effect on September 1, 2015, helped lift television revenue for the 12 months to August 31 by 7.5 per cent to $676.4 million.

That was despite the capital city free-to-air television advertising market declining 2.9 per cent in the same period.

"Our strategy of investing in prime time content and new distribution channels, coupled with the innovative and market-leading arrangement with MCN, is producing sound results," Mr Anderson said.

"The arrangement with MCN has delivered clear benefits in terms of scale, audience reach and innovation."

Mr Anderson said new five-year affiliation agreements with WIN Network and Southern Cross Media, which came into effect on July 1, were already lifting audience numbers.

Television costs increased 5.1 per cent, below guidance of 5.5 per cent given in April 2016, and they are expected to increase by mid-single digits in 2016/17.

TEN NETWORK REMAINS IN THE RED

* Net loss $156.8m v $312.2m

* Revenue up 5.4pct to $689.5m

* No final dividend.

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