Leith Mulligan: 'Good enough to be an Olympic reporter and an award winner one day... Gone the next.'
Veteran sports reporter Leith Mulligan has been sacked by Channel Seven.
Mulligan told Fairfax Media that Melbourne news director Simon Pristel – a former editor of the Herald Sun – informed him this morning his contract would not be renewed.
When asked if Pristel gave a reason for his axing, he said, "Well, they're losing the ratings. They're going to shake things up a bit. That means getting new people in and people he doesn't like, out."
Mulligan was given the option of working until his contract expires in eight weeks, but chose to leave immediately.
"I'd rather be with my family than working for an organisation that no longer wants me," he said. "I've got a wife and a couple of kids so I've got to get busy finding new employment."
Mulligan's sacking comes two days after he won a Melbourne Racing Club media award for his coverage of the Caulfield Cup. He was also one of five reporters chosen to cover the Olympic Games in London.
On his Twitter account, Mulligan posted, "Goneski. Good enough to be an Olympic reporter and an award winner one day... Gone the next."
He added, "On the look out for a job. Media experience 23 years. Hard worker. Please [direct message me] if any opportunities. Thanks."
When asked if Mulligan would be replaced, Pristel told Fairfax Media, "All that will become clear in the fullness of time."
He would not specify why Mulligan's contract was not renewed, saying, "Those are private discussions between Seven and Leith.
"We've been in discussions with Leith for a long time, his contract was up for renegotiation and and we decided to go in a different direction but I wish him well."
Pristel said Mulligan was not made redundant and there are no plans to remove other reporters from his newsroom.
In Melbourne, Seven's 6pm news bulletin has been beaten by Nine's every week this year. It attracts an average of 307,000 viewers each night compared to the 374,000 who watch Nine.
On October 15, Seven News drew just 192,000 viewers in Melbourne: its worst result since Christmas Day in 2007.
When asked if Mulligan's removal was part of a plan to claw back ratings, Pristel said, "No, it's simply a case of us making decisions all the time about various reporters across the board."
Mulligan's sacking comes barely a fortnight after the struggling Network Ten axed 100 jobs from its national news service to trim costs.