The Nine Network has decided to fund
much of the $15 million it’s looking for in cost savings by slashing
the use of freelance employees like journalists, producers, camera
people, sound assistants, studio people and audio and control room
people.

The network spends more than $8 million a year on
freelancers, although the true amount is likely to be a lot higher as
many freelancers are hidden within budgets of various departments
because they’ve been employed for years in areas like studios, staging,
outside broadcasts, news and the various current affairs shows. Nine
has actively employed freelancers in recent years to restrict the
headcount and create the illusion of keeping employee numbers low.

Nine CFO Brent Cubis has issued an edict to all department heads
and unit managers telling them to restrict the use of freelance
employees, following a series of meetings between chief operating
officer Ian Audsley and program heads and department managers. There
have been two types of meetings. The “good” half hour meeting for the
budget conscious manager or EP, and the hour-long cut-cut-cut meetings
for those whose programs are over budget.

But Nine execeutives are believed to be worried that any move to
cut the wages of people who have been employed longer than a year on a
freelance basis puts the Network potentially in breach of industrial
laws.

Peter Fray

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