News has come from within the TV world of
what actually led to the replacement of John Westacott and John McAvoy
as executive producer and managing editor respectively of Nine
Network’s A Current Affair a week ago.

Besides the now
infamous Friday night dinner at the Peacock Gardens in Crows Nest, it’s
now apparent there had also been an attempt to replace the host with
two presenters. Sources say the plan was to switch Ray Martin with
Ellen Fanning, who was the main prime time replacement host when Martin
was on assignment, and a Westacott favourite, Peter Overton, from 60 Minutes.

It
was against this background, and after being told of the dinner to
which he wasn’t invited, that Martin fronted Nine management and asked
for a ‘sack me or back me’ discussion. Martin was given the total
support of management, although a clause said to be in his contract
calling for a large termination payout would have no doubt helped make
any decision. The rest, as they say, is history with Westacott and
McAvoy out.

Meanwhile, the new EP at ACA, David Hurley,
has wasted no time in bringing in changes in the program’s on-air look
with a tighter shot that emphasises Martin’s dominance of the TV screen
and minimises the huge ‘plasma screen look’ that Westacott okayed at
the start of this year.

There are also ongoing changes in
producing personnel and in on-air reporters. The first is the
introduction of Chris Allen, the Today Tonight reporter in Brisbane who was hired three weeks ago before the changes at Nine.

There has also been a slight pick-up in the ACA audience share since the changes with the program beating TT on Monday night in a convincing fashion.

Peter Fray

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