Two recent subscriber-only sealed section items on Ray Martin
suggest that he may not be long in the chair as host of A Current
Affair.

Ellen Fanning steps up to the mark for Ray

Sealed section –
March 14

A Channel Nine watcher writes:

There
I was at munching on a pie, sipping on a beer and wondering if Warnie
would roll the Sri Lankans in time to catch the Penrith game in the
National Rapists League (Ed – sorry, that’s too strong and not funny)
and on comes A Current Affair.

Oh,
I said to myself, it’s 6.30 on a Friday night, Jim (Eyebags) Waley has
gone and its Ray” The Man” Martin beaming into the bar.

He
throws to a nice piece on the Madrid bombings and then up pops Prime
Minister John Howard. Hang on a minute, why is he being interviewed by
Ellen Fanning when “the man” normally handles these big political
exchanges?

And then my mate from Channel Nine, the sweetest
smelling station of all, lobbed into the bar with the latest from
Carinya House, where ACA and Ray live in the Empire of John Alexander
and Dave Gyngell.

It seems there’s speculation Ray’s days
could be numbered, especially with Channel Seven and its Today Tonight
lightweights making life hard for Ray and the Lads at ACA.

The
big tip is that Ellen Fanning will be the new host. Can’t say when but
end of the year looks best when Ray’s two year deal isup.

But
my mate from Nine said he cannot remember a time when another reporter
did a studio-based interview with the Prime Minister, when Ray was
there – or Mike Munro, or Mike Willesee.

Could
this be a big pointer to big changes at Nine? Sunday Telegraph gossip
columnist Ros Reines, an apologist for David Gyngell and his fiance
reporter, Leila McKinnon, alluded to this a few weeks back.

It
is felt around Nine that Ray is there only because Sam Chisholm
suggested to his long time mate, John Alexander (they go back to when
Alexander was running the now defunct Australian Business magazine for
Packer and Chisholm was running Channel Nine pre-Bond) that Ray would
sit better in the ACA chair in Studio One at Willoughby than Mike Munro.

Could this be a test of the power of Sam?

Is Ray planning to hit Noosa soon?

Sealed section – March 20

Has Crikey stumbled across some sort of confirmation that Ray Martin is about to be given the shove from A Current Affair?

What
else could explain an appalling plug by Mr Australia for a Sunshine
Coast property developer which is certainly not the kind of thing any
Channel Nine news or “current affairs” personality would normally be
permitted to touch.

Page 36 of this week’s edition of The
Noosa Property Review has what looks like a composite picture of
smiling Ray in front of a Noosaville townhouse with the caption: “TV’s
Ray Martin is the latest in a line of personalities to purchase a
riverfront residence in Noosaville”.

Here is the beginning of the story so you can judge for yourself:

Noosaville fast becoming a top celebrity centre

“Word
of the superb lifestyle and vigorous price growth in the Noosa River
Precinct has been spreading fast, says Gail Edwards and Dianne Swan of
Castle Bay Projects.

“The allure of the area is even
attracting the attention of seasoned travellers and high profile
celebrities. The latest in a line of
personalities to purchase a riverfront residence in Noosaville is TV personality Ray Martin.

“Ray,
who has purchased one of the impressive fully-detached luxury
residences in Sonoma on Gympie Terrace was particularly impressed by
the excellent open plan design and the high quality finishes and
inclusions.

“He said: ‘The standard of product being
produced by Castle Bay Projects is superb and the location is just
unbeatable. This is exactly the kind of property that I have been
looking for as an investment in a high capital growth area’.”

It
then rabbits on for several more paragraphs about what a brilliant
little “secure gated community” (to keep out Safran?) this development
is, plus all the usual developer waffle about 240 sq metres of imported
limestone floors etc.

This sort of second-rate effort does
nothing for Ray’s credibility, never mind the ethics of plugging real
estate investment properties on the super-heated Sunshine coast at this
point of the cycle.

One can only wonder how much of a discount he received for doing the endorsement?

Crikey
is predicting that Ray won’t be in the chair at A Current Affair by the
end of the year and maybe this indicates he is ready to bail out right
now?

If not, he certainly should be carpeted by Nine management and his discount disclosed.

Susan Kurosawa on Hardys Bay

Sealed section – March 25

In a recent column in The Weekend Australian, travel editor Susan
Kurosawa reviewed the NSW costal town of Pearl Beach for those in
search of a “SeaChange”.

However, Kurosawa managed to slip in this little line:

“Hardys Bay, they reckon, is the new Pittwater, so I don’t know where that leaves Pearl Beach.”

What Kurosawa should have added was that she and her partner actually
have a beach house in Hardys Bay. Leaving out this information was a
gross error in judgement as it leaves her exposed to accusations that
she is talking up her own assets.

Hardys Bay real estate agents will no doubt be keeping a close eye on
housing prices in the area after such blatant spruiking from a high
profile national travel editor.

Kurosawa’s effort is easily on par with Ray Martin’s plug for a
Sunshine Coast property developer, which we mentioned in the sealed
section a few days ago.

Unfortunately, Hardys Bay is a mudflat and will never become the
next Pittwater. If this line starts appearing in advertising on auction
billboards in Hardys Bay it could genuinely affect prices – including
that of Kurosawa’s own investment.

We’ll be contacting The Australian editorial bosses to see if they are taking any action over this.

Peter Fray

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