In the
words of a Nine insider, the staff cuts being sought by
way of voluntary redundancy “will be severe” and no program in news and current
affairs will be spared. Amalgamations are being examined, with Sunday and
Business Sunday the most logical. Questions are being asked: Is Nightline necessary?; do some news broadcasts (the 4.30pm)
really need to happen?

There’s
no decision on whether A Current Affair will continue or take a holiday over the
summer break for a month. That is
sparking intense debate with those wanting it to continue without a break
arguing that Seven would be handed a free kick if ACA
was to have a Summer holiday.

Around
28 jobs have been slated for axing at QTQ 9 in Brisbane, the smallest of the
three Nine Network stations. There
have been fears for months in Brisbane that it
will be reduced to just a “slave station” of Sydney with a minimum of sales, news and
technical staff and one or two studio operators.

Melbourne staff also wonder if they will be cut back to “slave station”
status. There is a bit more production done there: Family Feud for example will
be produced at GTV next year.

But these sorts of cuts and the strategy behind them were tried and
reversed by Seven after Ian Audsley and his then boss, David Aspinall,
tried to reform the Seven Network in 2003 and 2004. Many of the moves
to centralise news and current affairs production to
Melbourne, have been reversed by Seven under David Leckie and Ian
Johnson as they realise that the Audsley-Aspinall changes had badly
damaged staff morale across the network.

For
Nine, the size of the Brisbane cuts would indicate larger cuts: more than 40 are
to happen in Sydney and between 30 and 40 at GTV
9 in Melbourne. The
savings are put at $30 million
in a full year and half that from news and current affairs, indicating the cuts
there alone will be of the order of 60 jobs.