Who’s running the morals policy at Nine?
The Right Reverend Kerry Packer? Short of a spontaneous religious
conversion, it’s hard to imagine what prompted Rev Packer to dump Shane
Warne over breaches of an unwritten morals policy that’s never seemed
to bother anyone at Nine much in the past.

A couple of weeks ago
stories started to emerge that Nine chief Sam Chisholm was upset over
the spinner’s philandering and wanted to end Nine’s association with
him, but the matter was dropped and it seemed the leggie would survive.
So did Chisholm get his way or did Packer play morals judge on his lonesome?

It
just doesn’t make sense. After all, it was apparently all right in 2003
for Packer to ring the Sydney Nine Newsroom to tell his hacks that
Shane Warne’s troubles over drug taking stemmed from the fact that his
mother gave him the tablets concerned. When Warne was later suspended
from playing cricket for a year Kerry stood by him and Warne became a
commentator on Nine during his lay-off.

In Melbourne, Sam Newman, a star of the AFL Footy Show,
has conducted himself in public in a far more atrocious way than Shane
Warne, yet Newman’s behaviour is not only tolerated but rewarded by
regular appearances on Nine. Up until yesterday the Warne camp and most
of Nine thought Warne’s media contract would be extended, which is why
Simone Warne gave Nine News an exclusive early last week about how the
marriage to Shane was definitely over.

It’s not the first time
this year that the wowser has emerged in Packer. Remember Cameron Hoy,
the former sales boss of ACP Magazines and his very public appearance
with starlet Anna Nicole Smith at a function in Sydney? He was
terminated, but in that case it was a final push, rather than a
surprise axing.

The message from ACP was that Hoy was sacked for
leaving ACP clients by themselves and cavorting with Smith, not for the
cavorting itself and attendant publicity. Obviously there’s been a
policy change, which is bad news for any Nine, Crown or Consolidated
Press employee who is married, has an affair and gets caught. An lot of
people will be awfully worried.

Peter Fray

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