Aussie TV channel puts finance chief in charge of tech spending

Control of ICT budget removed from ICT department

Australian TV channel the Seven Network is losing its most senior ICT executives in the wake of plans to transfer all ICT spending decisions to the company’s chief financial officer.

The ICT budget will no longer be managed by ICT staff; earlier this month a spokesman for the network confirmed that the chief financial officer, Peter Lewis, will take full responsibility for all ICT spending.

Channel Seven has effectively split ICT, putting the CFO in charge of the budget while operations is managed by the head of engineering, Trevor Bird.

The network’s general manager of group IT services, Steven Longo, is leaving in December.

While Longo confirmed his departure, he refused to comment on claims Channel Seven is downgrading ICT operations.

Longo is the second senior ICT executive to leave Channel Seven recently. Information systems manager Peter Whitford resigned earlier this year after more than 20 years with the network.

A Channel Seven spokesman downplayed the changes, rejecting claims there was any kind of restructure or cost cutting plans. “The word restructure is too grand a term; IT has always been part of broadcast engineering,” he said at the time of the announcement.

Despite repeated attempts to speak to CFO Peter Lewis, Computerworld Australia was advised that all questions must be submitted in writing.

Plans by Channel Seven to split ICT fly in the face of local trends.

According to the 2006 State of the CIO Survey, which interviewed 275 Australian CIOs, more than a third of them report directly to the CEO, rather than the CFO.

Compiled by CIO Australia magazine, the survey supports similar research which found ICT departments that report to the CFO are more likely to be seen as a cost centre instead of a strategic weapon used for competitive advantage.

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