The contrast couldn’t have been more
telling. The Ten Network reveals the CEO succession, while Nine
struggles to fill the slot left vacant by the departure of David
Gyngell eight days ago.

John McAlpine’s departure and
replacement by Grant Blackley is a signal to the market of continuity
and stability. That will soon be confirmed when Nick Falloon, the
executive chairman, completes his current negotiations with the company
for a new contract. His current four-year deal is up in December and
negotiations are expected to be completed and announced shortly. It’s
expected to be another four-year deal.

That will rule him out of
any chance of returning to Nine, not that there was any chance given
the fact that Sam Chisholm will remain in charge of the PBL TV
interests and effectively in control of whomever takes the CEO’s role
at Nine. And talk from Nine is that Chisholm is not being backward in
playing at CEO at Nine. Changes to the Footy Show in Sydney, appointing a network chief operating officer, axing the dud Friday night program Our Place. It’s the Chisholm of old: late 80s variety.

word from Nine is that Sam Chisholm has drawn up a “list” of executives
to monster. Rather than acting as a hands-off interim leader, Sambo has
been taking the odd executive aside for a bit of a rev-up. Max
Uechtritz, the Sydney news boss is one, the Network programmer, Michael
Healy, is said to be another, while a third is David Hurley, the
executive producer of A Current Affair.

Uechtritz I can
understand. He’s been in charge since May last year and it’s been a
gradual downhill slide, especially since the middle of January this
year. Kicking it off was the crude removal of Jim Waley from the Sydney
newsreader’s spot. It would not surprise me if Chisholm sorts out the
Waley situation ASAP – both go back a long way at Nine.

Healy’s presence on the “shape up or ship out” list is a bit
surprising. Healy has done reasonably well fighting Seven, and
occasionally Ten, and the network’s fightback in the past six weeks is
as much to do with Healy as with Gyngell or anyone else.

Hurley has been at ACA
for about six weeks. That’s not enough to have him on the watch list
and yet, according to folk around Nine, he is. Maybe it reflects the
continuing beating from Today Tonight.

Meanwhile Healy
is off to Los Angeles today, along with Tim Worner, John Stephens and
David Leckie from Seven and Nick Falloon, David Mott and John McAlpine
from Ten. Normally David Gyngell would also be going. He went last year
and had a notable argument with Leckie.

The event is the fabled
Los Angeles screenings where the networks get to peak at what the US
networks and their suppliers have on offer for next season. Talk is
there are a few clones of Lost and Desperate Housewives,
which is to be expected. The LA screening is where Seven realised it
had its hands on two mega hits, but couldn’t talk about them until they
aired last US autumn and started to do well.