James Packer was allowed off the PBL leash for a major interview in the weekend edition of The Australian Financial Review
(which at times seems like the staff journal for PBL), where he talks
up the gaming business and the attractions of Macau. No mention of
Fairfax and there’s an obvious lack of interest in the future of the
Nine Network and free to air TV.

But the one comment that was laughable was his sledging of the Ten Network and Nick Falloon, the station’s executive chairman:

I’d hate to be [Ten executive chairman] Nick Falloon, I’d
be going to bed in a cold sweat each night. Not because of something he
has done or not done. In fact he is a world class television executive.
But to have 100 per cent of your business in free to air TV, in one
platform, in a platform which has enormous challenges. We don’t have
that problem.

Now that’s a gratuitous sledge on the
part of Packer junior, perhaps with One.Tel in mind. After all, he
sacked Nick Falloon as PBL CEO for being “too negative” about One.Tel,
among other things. Young James knows that if he had listened to
Falloon, he wouldn’t be facing a stretch in the witness box being
monstered by David Williams SC, the clever counsel for Rich and
Silbermann who has managed to leave the impression at times that it’s
PBL on trial and not his clients.

Falloon was flicked by Packer
in early 2001 and within four months, One.Tel had collapsed and PBL had
lost hundreds of millions of dollars.

Besides, with the lowest
cost base in the TV industry by far, Ten will survive in anything but a
near collapse of the economic environment. The Packers and PBL still
want Nine to have the gross profit margins Ten has (currently 37.6%,
compared with 23% or so for Nine) and not the other way round.