Broadcaster MediaWorks is seeking to draw a line under the era of former chief executive Mark Weldon by signalling recent improvement after years of widening losses.
The company's financial results also showed that the bosses of the embattled broadcaster, including Weldon, have banked a $8.7 million windfall.
The company, operator of a suite of radio stations and the Three and Bravo television channels, yesterday released its accounts for the 2016 calendar year showing losses after tax of $14.8m on the back of a 7.4 per cent decline in revenues.
Chief financial officer Ciara McGuigan sheeted this decline in bottom-line earnings to a rough environment for television operations, but said performances in 2017 to date were improved.
"Let's just call a spade a spade: These results are a reflection of what was happening in the business last year. It's not a pretty picture, but it's not a set of results that'll be repeated and this is as bad as it gets," McGuigan said.
Michael Anderson, appointed as Weldon's replacement last August, distanced himself from previous management and said the company's culture had turned around during the past year.
"There's a level of stability here now that wasn't here 12 months ago," Anderson said.
He said while radio earnings were "very stable", television faced challenges and an audit note flagged that support from the company's shareholder Oaktree would be required should market conditions continue to deteriorate.
"It's a tale of two businesses. Radio is very stable, while free-to-air television is entering a similar phase to print and magazines," Anderson said.
A breakdown of business units provided by MediaWorks showed that while radio revenues remained flat at $156.9m, television declined 10 per cent to $130.1m.
The accounts showed the company's directors and a handful of senior managers banked a $8.7m bonus paid over two years, when private equity firm Oaktree Capital took over the company in 2015.
Directors during the period included former chairman Rod McGeoch, Martin Dalgleish, television producer Julie Christie and Paul Lockey. The Herald understands the "certain senior management" involved only a small number of executives and included Weldon.
The payouts came despite years of declining earnings at the company and an imminent breach of banking covenants.
Questions sent by the Herald to Weldon - whose tenure at the company ran from August 2014 to his resignation in May 2016 - about his reign and the bonus payments went unanswered.
The accounts record a breach in banking covenants in the second half of last year, with the company exceeding interest cover and leverage ratios.
The breach saw the company's $73m senior debt facility - held by a syndicate headed by Westpac - classed as a current liability, but the breach was waived in February.
McGuigan said the company remained on good terms with its bankers and the debt has since been reclassified as a long-term liability.
"We have a good relationship with our debt holder, and we are not worried at all," she said.
McGuigan described the $8.7m bonus scheme as a one-off cost that bit into underlying earnings and said it would not be repeated.
"The most important thing is that scheme has ended. And under Michael's leadership we haven't got a scheme like it, and it won't affect our future earning," she said.
Anderson said he had inherited an organisation whose workforce was in distress, but the business was now on a firmer footing and focused on owning its 25-54 age group demographic.
Anderson expressed optimism for the future and flagged investment in new shows like The Project and the The AM Show.
"You can cost-cut, and you have to cost-cut, but in the end you've got to get ahead of the curve."