It seems Crikey has been banned by the Nine Network for its gossip content, but Terry Television wonders if in the interests of consistency Nine will extend the ban to the country’s many paper based gossip columns?

So the official line from the Nine Network, according to the Sydney Confidential column in today’s Sydney Daily Telegraph is that Crikey was banned by the Nine Network yesterday because too many staff were logging in and that Crikey was a ‘gossip’ website and not a ‘resource’.

By this yardstick, will the Nine Network now also ban the Sydney Daily Telegraph (and its Confidential Gossip column), The Australian, especially the Thursday edition, with the Media section (and gossip column by Amanda Meade), The Sydney Morning Herald and its Spike gossip column, The Australian Financial Review and its Rear View gossip column?

As well as the Herald Sun and The Age, both with TV, business and other columns? And papers in Brisbane and elsewhere that carry TV or business or general gossip pages?

And what about the Sydney Sunday paper last weekend that snapped David Gyngell and fiancé, Nine Sydney reporter, Leila McKinnon cuddling on a Sydney beach?

It was the Sydney Sun Herald and the gossip columnist was Annette Sharp, who has written some bitchy and sharply worded material about Nine in the past (she was pushed out of publicity in the early 90s) and Seven.

Is that paper to be banned, or were those photographs encouraged and fed to the paper, perhaps as a plan to limit exposure of a bucks night for Gyngell and other happenings in the lead up to the Gyngell-McKinnon marriage next month.

And yes Crikey and Terry Television quite often gets it wrong, because like all situations, there are different perspectives, changing facts and a tight clamp on information from an industry that is notoriously hypocritical in the way it demands the freedom to invade the public’s privacy, but repels those who try to explore the workings of some of its members. Such as the Nine Network, the most secretive of them all.

Consistency is the most important thing in a situation like this Dave. So ban ‘em all because they all carry gossip (much of it fed by your spinners), or is that Crikey’s scrutiny is proving a little too hard to take?

Seven and Ten say there will be no banning. A Seven spokesman saying that “we cop it, they cop it, everybody cops it, that’s television”. Seven’s director of news and current affairs, Peter Meakin said, “we believe in free speech”.

Which is important for such a big, vital and growing industry encountered by most Australians every day.

TV is a $3.6 billion dollar industry for the commercial networks, or more once non-ad revenue figures are added in. That rises to well over $4 billion once the ABC and SBS are included.

Some of the country’s most influential families are involved (eg the Packers) and some of the most interesting managers (such as John Alexander, David Gyngell, David Leckie, John McAlpine, Sandra Levy at ABC TV, Kerry Stokes and Tony Bell at SBC).

Plus all those stars, starlettes, bimbos, himbos and the really talented people in all networks that combine to produce the good, the brilliant, the appalling but watchable and at times the indefensible.

It employs thousands of people. There are at least four major companies with TV interests (PBL, Seven, Ten and Southern Cross). It is an industry that has lacked constant scrutiny in the past except for gossip columnists and other tidbits fed by network publicists.

And like all endeavours there are good, bad and indifferent people in it. That’s what makes it very interesting, and fascinating.

Crikey will continue covering this industry in the way it has this year.

If anyone from the Packer empire wants to change their email address, tell us now.

Don’t be banned.

PS Will the Spike column in The Sydney Morning Herald be banned for the running brawl with Nine and Ray Martin over a booking at a Sydney eatery?

Here’s Today’s effort:

Far be it from Spike to suggest Ray Martin would use his “star power” to get good tables in restaurants. Martin emailed Spike yesterday to set the record straight on our report about the Watermark restaurant yesterday and the disgruntled customer who claims her booking for an outside table to celebrate her 13-year-old daughter’s birthday was bumped for Martin and a group of friends. We reported the Watermark denied the accusation after we interviewed both parties, but that did not stop Martin from launching a tirade about journalistic ethics. “Whatever happened to ethics? Some random mother emails you and you print the bogus allegations – irrespective of the truth. Watermark says the bitchy claim is nonsense. I was completely innocent and knew nothing about it, ’til your column today. Don’t bother checking with me, don’t let the facts interfere with the bullshit. Onya.” But as you so eloquently pointed out, Ray, you knew nothing about it, so why would we call?

And this from Tuesday’s Spike:

It’s never fun being bumped from a table at a Sydney restaurant by a minor celebrity, especially on your 13th birthday. But that’s what Ann Josephson claims happened to her daughter Michaela on Sunday when the outdoor table she had booked at Watermark restaurant on Balmoral Beach was given to Ray Martin and his friends.

“I booked two weeks in advance and the restaurant called me two times to confirm the booking, but when we arrived ‘our’ table was changed to inside and the manager on duty said that she could do nothing about it,” Ann Josephson said.

“After 30 minutes we all realised why we did not get ‘our’ table [when] Mr Ray Martin and friends sat down there.”

But Watermark said Josephson did not make a booking for an outdoor table. “The lady had been told her table was in the second or third row. There was no discussion of an outdoor table request at all,” said Watermark’s operations manager, Lauren Rushton. “Anyway, there is enough seating outside for 40 people so a table of 11 for Ray Martin certainly wouldn’t have made any difference.”

We watch to see if Spike is hammered by the Big Guns at Nine!

Peter Fray

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