There’s only one 6pm news on the Nine
Network that matters – the one in Sydney. It’s in the biggest market,
it’s the key TV station in the Packer empire, and it’s under performing
– losing every week since the middle of January to bitter rival Seven.
That’s why there was a meeting behind closed blinds of Nine’s Sydney
news chiefs (and some mid-range Indians) in Hendo’s Lounge (how ironic
given the rumours of his return) on the lower ground floor at
Willoughby at 11.30am today. Fourteen coffees were taken in and the
blinds closed in the meeting. Max Uechtritz, the controversial Sydney
news boss, was one of the last seen by staff entering the meeting.
Nine today is rife with rumours of significant changes in news producers, readers and at the Today Show, with suggestions of other changes to be revealed later this week.
Hence the ferment in the second floor newsroom in the past week with
Sam Chisholm forcing changes which could include Brian Henderson making
a re-appearance reading the Sydney 6pm news Monday to Friday, at the
age of 74 and a half years.
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As well, Kim Watkins, who departed Nine after suing, is said to have
been asked by Chisholm to return to a prominent newsreaders role.
Anthony Flannery, the executive producer of the 6pm news has been moved to the Today Show
and made EP. A move that unwinds his appointment of a year ago by
Max Uechtritz, just after he was hired from the ABC. Flannery will
replace Jebby Phillips, who was made EP at the end of last year in the
previous purge at the program
Graham Thurston, sacked by Uechtritz in making the Flannery appointment, is said to have been moved back to a 6pm role from Business Sunday, but Tony Ritchie in a similar role, this is now uncertain.
The moving of Flannery to the Today Show role is odd, because it has more problems than the 6pm news as it is beaten every morning by Seven’s Sunrise and decisions have to be made about the 6am to 7am news as well as the Today Show from 7am (the future of Leila McKinnon, the newsreader for Today is one early decision).
Chisholm has started calling former Nine readers. Ian Ross is locked up
by Seven, Kim Watkins has been approached despite just settling a nasty
legal case against Nine recently, as did Jim Waley. The most logical
call has been made to Brian Henderson. Yes, he has been fronting the Queen’s Castles special, but there is a strong talk from Nine that he has been asked to consider returning to the 6pm Nine News.
And Tony Ritchie, hired back from Seven, is going to be the Sydney executive producer of the Nine News,
under max Uechtritz, but reporting to Chisholm. That’s sort of half way
to the old spot of news director, filling the old spot occupied by Paul
Fenn, who was punted by David Gyngell and John Alexander more than a
What happens to Max Uechtritz is unclear. There are reports he’s going to A Current Affair, but that has not been confirmed. At present he says as News Director, sort of!
Meanwhile David Gyngell had a farewell at North Bondi last Friday night
and according to those present, he surprised by NOT making a speech,
even of thanks.