Crikey has had a number of stories about
the problems in the struggling Sydney media group, Palamedia, which has
been associated for years with Seven Network personality, David Koch.

Koch’s involvement has shrunk over the years, especially as his Seven commitments to Sunrise have risen. But to some media, especially The Fin Review’s
Rear Window column, Koch is still Palamedia, despite someone else being
in effective control (a director, John McNiven) and a succession of
senior executives.

Rear Window ran a cartoon of Koch last week
with a belated story detailing the Palamedia split-up, yet Koch is only
a small shareholder and hasn’t been in a full-time management position
for more than three years.

Sky sources say Koch offered to take over production of Sky Business Report
but one Sky shareholder in particular, the Nine Network, wouldn’t
approve any assignment of the contract. So Sky News is now in control
of a business that made money for Palamedia for the past three years.

Koch
didn’t start Palamedia. He owned a private company in the 1980s that
another company, Integrated Development Corporation, acquired and used
as a base to launch into the dotcom business. The big mistake was
buying listed dot commer Channel E in 2000 at the height of the boom.
Palamedia insiders say the company has been effectively controlled by
director and major shareholder John McNiven for the past three years as
it struggled to survive.

The two chief executives over the past
three years have been Graham Burdis (business manager of major
shareholder John McNiven) and David Champtaloup (friend of John
McNiven).

Champtaloup is the accounting professor who has
responsibility for the broadcast unit and was signing many of the
Palamedia statements to the ASX, but was not sighted on last week’s statement.

Koch has contracts with Palamedia and Seven. The second series of the small business show, My Business
, starts on Seven next Sunday and is a Palamedia production. The
unsigned statement from Palamedia confirming the split remains curious
because no-one seems to want to take any responsibiliy and it failed to
refer in anyway to the My Business magazine or the TV show.

John
McNiven effectively controls the company with his revolving line of
credit of $1.75 million and its 18-20 per cent interest rate which is
keeping Palamedia alive as a going concern. Whether he will recover the
money is another issue and we doubt David Koch will be losing too much
sleep either way.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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