In an interview with David Leckie, being published in tomorrow’s Weekend
Australian Magazine, author and former TV producer Andrew Haughton reveals Leckie’s undoubted good points.
Leckie has surprised many in the
media since becoming a CEO. He has a high understanding of
the need for profits as well as patience and cost control, unlike his
predecessor and mentor, Sam Chisholm, now back at Nine as interim CEO
seemingly intent on reliving the glory years of the 80s. I noticed that
Leckie understood that profits need to grow to enable jobs to
be maintained and the organisation to flourish. And as the
4,200 word profile in tomorrow’s Weekend Australian Magazine will show, Leckie’s
growth has benefited “little Kerry” Stokes, who controls Seven.
The difference between Leckie and Chisholm, and their networks, at the
moment is nicely captured. There’s the hint of getting square after being
flicked by Kerry Packer in January 2002 after Kerry Stokes hired him in 2003
to revitalise Seven.
“Leckie was back from the dead and bent, say friends, on revenge. “David is very competitive and I think getting even
[with Packer] would be a nice thing for [him]… that would be one of his
great motivators,” says his old friend Reg Bryson.”
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The profile explains how Leckie (and others at Nine) were
shaped in its ruthless and abrasive culture.
These lines will not go down well at Nine in these gentler times.
Those familiar with the (Nine, Packer) empire
refer to such behaviour as “corporate battered baby syndrome.” That
is, Sir Frank Packer monstered son Kerry, who in turn monsters his executives,
who terrorise their underlings. In such a world, the 194cm-tall Leckie became a
One colleague says: “David is certainly a complex character. If he
chooses, he can be utterly charming. He is also capable of great generosity to
those he cares about, or considers to have served him well. But he can also be
abrasive, abusive, unreasonable, unjust and a complete pain in the arse.
After growing up in that culture, you can take the man
out of Nine, but you can’t take Nine out of the man – even at