Sydney, NSW: Channel 10 sues ex-political editor Peter van Onselen

Channel 10 is taking its former political editor Peter van Onselen to court over allegations he breached his contract by putting down the broadcaster.

The network filed documents with the NSW Supreme Court on Friday relating to Dr van Onselen’s non-disparagement clause signed when he parted ways with Ten earlier this year.

In an interlocutory hearing on Monday, the matter was expedited to June 29, although it’s understood Dr van Onselen will be in Italy at that time and won’t appear in person.

Court documents released on Monday show Dr van Onselen has agreed not to make further disparaging comments about Network 10 or Paramount until the court case is over.

If successful, the broadcaster would also like to see Dr van Onselen make some sort of admission that he broke his contract, and have a permanent ban on him ever making any disparaging comments about 10 or Paramount ever again.

It’s understood the matter is related to Dr van Onselen’s opinion piece published in The Australian last Monday in which he questioned the viability of Ten and its US owners Paramount and blamed ratings problems on “brand and management.”

“Paramount’s share price has plummeted more than 30 per cent in the past month, down more than 50 per cent in just a year,” Dr van Onselen wrote.

“You could choose to be a little more upbeat about Paramount (and Ten’s) future if the streaming part of the business was firing, but it’s not.

“So what does all of this mean for Network 10? It could be fine, limping along with little attention paid to it by its big overseas owner … Since that time the network’s ratings have slowly ebbed lower and lower, elongating the divide between it and its more successful commercial rivals in Australia.”

It’s understood Dr van Onselen won’t be cross-examined during the hearing later in June, which has been set down for a single day.

Dr van Onselen announced in March he was leaving Ten after four years as its political editor and will be returning to academia.

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