The
bagging of Julian Mounter by Kerry Stokes in both his
fourth witness statement in the C7 case and in his evidence Tuesday afternoon
has sparked a few memories around the Sydney TV and media
industry.

The
most colourful comment came from an unnamed broker who
wondered if Kerry Stokes wants everyone else to pay for the fact that he
employed an idiot to run Seven.

Others
from the media remember that when the Mounter
appointment was announced, the first interviews in late 1998 took place in the
Quay West apartment of then News Ltd chief, Ken Cowley.

Cowley
was also a business partner with Stokes in the RM Williams clothing and Australiana company.

Mounter’s job previous to Seven was being a self-employed media executive in
Britain’s Channel Islands. Prior to that, he ran News Corp’s Star TV
in Asia, with not much success. He was
introduced to Stokes by Cowley (mates rates!).

The
interviews took place in the Cowley apartment because Stokes’ apartment in the
same building could not be used because of a cocktail party that was going on
there, according to journalists.

Cowley
is now involved in the C7 case from the News Ltd side as the senior
representative of Rupert Murdoch in this country. Will he be called as a witness?

Perhaps that’s why Mounter went off and started playing
media mogul himself, doing deals with Austar and Foxtel that were
contrary to Stokes’ thinking. Mounter obviously thought Stokes was just
non-executive chairman and didn’t consider the fact that he was very
wealthy and had a stake in Seven and was increasing it.

When
you have a lot of ‘skin’ involved in a deal, you become
very protective of your investment.

Mounter took over from Gary Rice,
who was also less than a stunning success for Stokes (and at Nine Network and Bond Media previously).

He is best known for that tumble
off the stake in October 1998 at the Seven AGM, a month after he was
revealed as the new CEO. Then he had to reveal a fall in Seven profits.

That
profit slide, and the problems with Mounter, led Stokes
to become full time executive chairman of Seven in July 1999 when Mounter ‘left the company.’ ‘Dismounted’ I think was one
headline that dated from around the time of the AGM prat fall.

Peter Fray

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