It’s going to be a tough day at the Nine
Network today. The venue: the third floor Willoughby boardroom. The
attendees: chief operating officer Ian Audsley and all unit managers.
The subject: slicing $30 million off all budgets, half of it coming out
of the budgets of Nine News in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.

This
will be the second round of cuts at Nine in five months after the last
purge hacked $15 million and retrenched around 60 people in June.

It
will also come less than 24 hours after last night’s launch of Nine’s
2006 line-up in a big bash at Willoughby in Studio 2 that saw Bert
Newton as a star turn.

For some old Niners it brings back memories of Sam Chisholm’s 50th birthday in 1990 when a Harley Davidson
motorbike was lowered into the third floor boardroom at a lunchtime
party, just as 60 people were being retrenched across the
network.

That was in the dying days of the Bond Media
extravaganza, but these cuts are firmly part of the PBL empire and the
Packer push away from traditional media and into all things internet
and all things gaming.

Freelancers and casuals (if they still
exist at Nine), all overtime and staff numbers will be cut to save
money. There’s been talk already reported that up to a dozen people
will go in Nine’s Melbourne newsroom.

Staff at QTQ 9 in Brisbane
fear for their jobs while in Sydney, overtime is being slashed across
the board, forcing producers and program makers to look at significant
cost savings, like pre-recording Nightline three hours early so that overtime doesn’t have to be paid to staff working the News and ACA.