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Crikey Says

Dec 11, 2012

Crikey says: the radio CEO should walk

Last night's TV tell-not-quite-alls were a lesson in crisis management. But who will take the fall? The Power Index on the man holding $200 billion in ASX wealth. Inside Kirribilli for the PM's pitch to women. On the road with China's leader-in-waiting. And prosecuted for sharing a link?

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Media reporter Tim Burrows writes of attending the press conference on Saturday afternoon from Southern Cross Austereo CEO Rhys Holleran in the wake of the suspected suicide of the London nurse caught up in the royal phone prank saga:

“I started to write a news story about his resignation. Of course, he wasn’t to blame for the death of nurse Jacintha Saldanha, but somebody within the company needed to take responsibility, and I suspected they knew it.”

The story wasn’t needed then, nor since.

Instead, Holleran sent out the two DJs who made the call into the burning lights of commercial TV interviews yesterday. Like trapped deer, they pleaded ignorance and presented as remarkably naive victims themselves.

As corporate consultant Toby Ralph writes for Crikey, the pair were clearly coached in crisis management 101. The apologies were as genuine as their determination not to name or blame anyone else in the organisation.

Holleran, meanwhile, went on Channel Ten’s The Project — after his DJs were too emotional to complete that interview — and refused to answer repeated questions about who green-lit the segment or even what the process for editorial approval was. He says the station didn’t breach regulations, but won’t say how he thinks he can dodge the requirement to seek permission before putting someone to air.

The CEO didn’t resign for any of Kyle Sandilands’ despicable indiscretions on the same station — name your favourite — and he’s not quitting now. He’s sacrificed two on-air patsies but refuses to give anyone else up.

It’s not good enough. Holleran percolated the culture of shock and scandal that wins ratings and pleases shareholders. He’s responsible for when it goes wrong.

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