More changes at PBL, with one senior executive departing due to
ill-health and a new position being created to handle media convergence!
Media convergence is a particular hobbyhorse of James Packer and John
Alexander, so it was no surprise that Martin Dalgleish , from Optus,
was named as CEO of Convergent Media at PBL.

But don’t mention a TiVo or any device that can be used to record onto
hard drives and strip out advertisements. Nor such a things as the
Electronic Program guide which free to air broadcasters in this country
and Foxtel are very reluctant to sell to TiVo makers or to allies (in
the case of Nine) like Microsoft and its Media Centre that was launched
here in Australia last month without much of a trace.

But the statement
is a sign of the now almost mythical ‘cross platform’ integration and
promotion is taking some first hesitant steps down the convergence
route.

But that will be a bit hard to take over at Nine where the director of
digital business, Kim Anderson, resigned several months ago. She left
to take on a more hands on role as chief operating officer of Southern
Star, now part of Southern Cross Broadcasting.

But I’m told one of the reasons she quit was the feeling she had less
than total belief and backing for the digital future at Nine,
especially in the senior management team lead by David Gyngell.

Now all this digital is gospel in PBL (the Dalgleish appointment makes
it thus), it will be interesting to watch how Gyngell and those in the
Nine network climb on board for the ride.

One of the things Dalgleish brings is a good understanding of subscription television (as does PBL director, Sam Chisholm).

So what about the review of digital services, such as
multi-channelling, being conducted by the Federal Communications
Department?

That’s the post 2007 world when all things analogue are supposed to be longer useable or worth pursuing.

But the Networks, especially Nine, are bitterly opposed to
multi-channelling because it fears the idea will be harder to sell and
will split advertising revenue and fragment even further than it is.

There is also the question of the 25% stake in Foxtel (it’s nice having
someone on board full time who can deal with the likes of Jim Williams
and others at Foxtel, plus all the nerds at Telstra) and the half
ownership of Premier Media (Fox Sports) – the richest and greediest
content supplier in the country.

It controls the Australian rights to next year’s Ashes tour and will
make millions selling the broadcast to Foxtel because the free to air
networks (Nine, Seven etc) don’t want to show cricket to the masses.

Nine has gone down the full strength High Definition Digital TV route,
rather than standard definition. While it could mean Nine could split
its signal into four or five channels, going HD makes it a tougher
thing to do as there is a noticeable quality drop off with the single
free to air signal. The purity and quality of that signal was why Nine
went to HD TV.

Meanwhile the loss of James McLachlan as head of PBL Enterprises after
a period of ill-health will be a blow. Guy Jalland will partly replace
him as PBL General Counsel.

McLachlan knew his way around all parts of PBL and its businesses, after starting at Nine 13 years ago as the in house lawyer.

He has managed to do a number of good deals, such as the investment in
Seek, the involvement in Ninemsn, the poor investment in India and had
dealings with the OneTel disaster.

And he was worth it, being paid a total of $1.6 million in the year to
June, making him more highly paid than Rowen Craigie at the highly
important Crown Casino and David Gyngell at Nine.

He will remain as a consultant to stop him going elsewhere to use his
huge knowledge of the Packer group against it in the marketplace.

Guy Jalland is a lawyer and has been working for Consolidated Press,
the Packer family’s private investment company. he will become the PBL
General Counsel while Anthony Klok will head up PBL Enterprises, while
retaining his current position as business development director.

Guy Jalland featured briefly in the HIH Royal Commission
involving that silly last minute attempt to sell HIH property to Kerry
Packer. The so called deal that saw Packer’s best young chum, Ben
Tilley, sneak into a sick Packer’s hospital room to pitch the deal.

But wait, there’s more Guy was also mentioned in the OneTel case. Here’s a Crikey primer from back in 2001:
http://www.crikey.com.au/politics/2001/06/17-mackenzie.html

And Guy Jalland is chairman and director of the small listed company,
Strategic Pooled Developments, the investment plaything of Andrew
Kroger, which is part of the Packer link into the Melbourne businesses
and political establishment.

And while on Packer-related changes, Sam Chisholm has stepped down as
chairman of Two Way TV, an interesting move given he was brought on
board to give the idea credibility. It’s the brainchild of former
Nine senior executive Jim McKay and had been making headway in
the interactive age. You’d think that would be right up Martin
Dalgleish, John Alexander and James Packer’s alley!

Chisholm remains chairman of Foxtel (which has been talking to Two Way
about deals, as have the other networks). So it cannot have been a
conflict of interest that brought about the resignation from Two Way.