FIVE months after finding herself at the centre of a social media firestorm when she was accused of casting aspersions on the intelligence and sexual prowess of a Victoria Cross-decorated soldier, television presenter Yumi Stynes has been dumped, along with her mid-morning chat show The Circle, by Ten.
In a move that took industry observers by surprise, the network announced yesterday that the last episode of the Melbourne-produced show would air on Friday. About 30 jobs are expected to be lost as a result of the decision but the network has vowed to find a new role for Stynes' co-host, Gorgi Coghlan.
The Circle will be replaced by a line-up of American programming, which will be cheaper to put to air but make it harder for the network to meet its Australian content requirements.
While The Circle has struggled to attract viewers recently, the big surprise in Ten's decision lay in the fact that it got the chop rather than the Breakfast program, whose plight is far worse.
The Circle's audience generally hovers near the 60,000 mark, while its rivals on Seven and Nine attract audiences two to three times that size.
But the audience for Breakfast typically numbers about 30,000 or so, less than one-tenth of the audience for both Today (Nine) and Sunrise (Seven).
Ten chief executive James Warburton said the decision "was not taken lightly, but tight fiscal control and cost discipline are a core part of our strategy".
It is also likely that the $1 million Ten is rumoured to be paying Breakfast co-host Paul Henry played a part in the decision, as it would still have to pay that even if the show did not go to air.
It has not been spared entirely, however, with Ten announcing its early morning news and chat show will be cut back by half an hour, with the resulting loss of about five jobs in Sydney.
From next Monday, Ten's morning line-up is: Breakfast 6-8.30am; children's show Wurrawhy 8.30-9am (currently 11.30-noon); American chat show The Talk, hosted by Sara Gilbert, 9-10am; morning news 10-11am; and American shows Entertainment Tonight at 11 am and The Insider at 11.30-noon.
In 2012, Fairfax publications asserted in a number of articles that Yumi Stynes and George Negus had made derogatory comments regarding the sexual character of Victoria Cross recipient Corporal Ben Roberts-Smith and his use of IVF procedures. The discussion occurred on The Circle television chat show. Our interpretation was wrong and we accept that both Negus and Stynes were not referring to Corporal Roberts-Smith personally, but to strongly-built men generally. We apologise for the error.