Another entry to add to the growing list of victims of
Sam Chisholm’s “executive squeeze” style of management: Vance Lothringer is due to leave Nine tomorrow after some
20 years service, including the past ten or so driving the sales
performance of what has been the best TV Network in the country.

Lothringer’s imminent departure was
denied three weeks ago by Nine – the official line was that changes in
Nine’s sales management line-up were aimed at making the operation
stronger, not forcing Lothringer out. Lothringer mysteriously
disappeared for a day after confronting Chisholm about the changes but
Nine maintained that Lothringer was staying and the man himself
confirmed that he wasn’t going anywhere.

But within 24 hours, the attempts by Jenni Gilbert and others to spin
the story had failed as others in Nine and in the media said Lothringer
would be departing and that Nine’s story was hokum. Lothringer told
journalists that he’d be playing golf the following Friday but wasn’t
concrete about his future. Now he joins a long line of other executives
to leave Nine in July and August as the Chisholm-inspired purge

The squeeze on Lothringer was particularly cynical: Chisholm first
promoted personal favourite and Nine outsider, Louise Barrett, from a
job in Melbourne to Sydney and then promoted Sydney station and sales
boss, Paul Waldren, to keep an eye on Lothringer. But unlike others
before him, Lothringer rebelled and confronted Chisholm – something the interim Nine boss isn’t used to.

Lothringer, who along with David Leckie was responsible for keeping Nine on top in sales
terms in the 90s and up to 2005, has been treated shabbily by Chisholm. The
slow down in ad revenues is industry wide, but Nine’s floundering is also due to poor
programming moves and decisions made by Kerry Packer, John Alexander, David Gyngell and Sam Chisholm.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey