Jim Waley is just the latest victim after a torrid and tumultuous two years of changes at Kerry Packer’s Nine Network, as Terry Television reports.
The changes continue at the Nine Network, but rather than the slashing and lopping driven by John Alexander, many of the changes seem to be a case of back to the future. The latest are very good examples. Jim Waley removed from reading the 6 pm news in Sydney and replaced by Mark Ferguson.
Jim was made Brian Henderson’s replacement at the start of 2003, at the instigation of Kerry Packer who talked him into taking the 6pm gig. Long time newsreader, Brian Henderson has stepped down at the end of 2002 at the age of 71.
Now Jim’s out and Kerry Packer and John Alexander, then PBL Media CEO and now CEO of PBL, who drove that change, are nowhere to be seen. Ferguson is in, supported by David Gyngell, the CEO of Nine and Max Uechtritz, the head of Nine News in Sydney.
The removal of Darren Wick from the Today Show by the man he replaced, and who replaced in, former EP, Steve Wood means another of those management changes driven by John Alexander has bitten the dust.
And there are reports that Sunday and Business Sunday, EP, John Lyons is interested in getting up a small business show. Nine killed of its previous effort in mid 2002 in a decision made by David Gyngell and ticked off by John Alexander.
Alexander ruled Nine from early 2002, when Kerry Packer sacked David Leckie in a fit of billionaire pique, until June last year when he forced out Peter Yates from the top job at PBL and took the gig.
David Gyngell was his deputy at the PBL media group, formed to house Nine and ACP and to allow Alexander to preside over this media empire. It has fallen to Gyngell to unwind many of the Alexander moves.
The most important was removing the ineffectual Jim Rudder as Nine’s News and Current Affairs boss last May. He then moved Mark Llewellyn sideways from direct control of A Current Affair with John Westacott being put in charge of A Current Affair and his old gig, 60 Minutes.
There has been no replacement of Rudder. Gyngell was the nominal head of News and Current Affairs for a while but has increasingly moved aside and handed power to John Westacott (60 Minutes and A Current Affair) John Lyons at Sunday and Business Sunday, News, Max Uechtritz (at least in Sydney) and Steve Wood Daytime TV, Today and the new chat show.
Darren Wick was replaced at the Today Show by the man he replaced, Steve Wood, was a winding back the clock. Wood has been Lazarus-like in his comeback at Nine. After falling victim to both the rise of Seven’s Sunrise and David Koch and the personal pique of Alexander, he was pushed into the no-man’s land of special projects.
But under Gyngell he was named head of DayTime TV at Nine, given Kerry Anne Kennerley’s infomercial program as a first gig, then Today, and now has the new late afternoon female skewed chat show and one other new daytime show.
Now he runs Today Show with producer Jebby Phillips reporting to him, but will have to prove that with a new male host in Karl Stefanovic, he can push Today back to the top of the pile once again from 7am to 9am. A tough job!
The producer’s slot at ACA is now more of a joint role with quite a few people involved. The upshot is that ACA will continue to be under pressure from Seven’s Today Tonight. Signs of that re-emerging in the second week of 2005 ratings came last week with ACA losing a lot of viewers on Wednesday and Thursday night. TT beat ACA easily on Monday night of this week, but ACA has since done better than TT.
Somehow I can’t see David Hurley, the long time producer of ACA, wanting to reclaim his job after being pushed out by Alexander.
Likewise you can’t expect to see Gary Burns returning to head up Sport, or Kris Noble Light Entertainment and Drama or Rory Callaghan, also in the same area, or Hilary Innes.
Gyngell appointees Gary Fenton (2006 Commonwealth Games and head of Sport) and Steve Crawley (head of all other sports coverage, especially Rugby League) are too entrenched at Nine, and so is drama head, Posie Graeme-Evans, the mother of McLeod’s Daughters.
Nor can you expect Stephen Rice to be given back his job at Sunday and replace the man who replaced him, John Lyons, a long time favourite of John Alexander.
On the management side Neil Mooney was flicked from Nine Brisbane (QTQ) by David Gyngell and is now at Seven running Today Tonight.
Ian Johnson is another long time Nine staffer now at Seven. He found the Alexander-Gyngell Packer way of managing Nine unacceptable when he replaced Leckie after heading up Crown. (he was a long time head of Nine Melbourne).
His replacement, Graeme Yarwood, was flicked after being summonsed to Sydney and then replaced in 11 minutes by Gyngell.
Of course Peter Meakin, the former head of News and Current Affairs at Nine is now at Seven and of no mind to return.
Michael Pascoe and Glenn Dyer were flicked from Nine’s Business Sunday and News, by either Alexander or Rudder/Gyngell/Alexander.
Ray Martin was shunted into the chair at ACA after Mike Munro was undermined and then pushed. Jana Wendt was moved into the Sunday slot after Jim Waley left to take Brian Henderson’s role.
Both Martin and Wendt’s appointments were partly driven by Alexander, with input from Sam Chisholm, who rejoined the PBL board last September.
Finally, in all this bloodshed, one departure stood out. John Stephens, the top notch former Nine programmer, now at Seven behind Tim Worner. Stephens quit Nine when he received an offer from Seven. He never had a contract and he quit within days of Leckie being shafted and pushed out the door.
He went on his own terms, and that hurt Alexander, Packer and Gyngell more than any of the other departures. Along with Ian Johnson, John Stephens stands out as having got out before they got them.