At Nine’s Christmas Party this Friday night – cheekily dubbed
Retrenchments 2005 – staff are likely to hear news from interim CEO,
Sam Chisholm about his future plans and progress on finding a new chief
executive for the network.

He’s expected to indicate that he will be stepping back from
Nine around the end of the first quarter of next year but keep his
board job at PBL as Executive Director in charge of PBL’s TV interests
(including Nine, Sky News and Foxtel, as well as Premier Media)

The
name David Evans, a former Nine executive in Melbourne in the mid to late 80s, has suddenly become the
one heard around Willoughby this week. He’s
currently a director of John Fairfax, having taken up the position earlier this
year and having just stood successfully for re-election. Evans is also
currently running the Hallmark TV business (its cable) in the
US but that has been put up for
sale.

Evans
went from running GTV 9 in Melbourne to running the TV interests in the US
for Christopher Skase’s Qintex group for around 18 months. He has also worked extensively for Rupert Murdoch at
Fox and at Sky in London.

Another
name is Chris Taylor, the former CEO of Prime NZ which was linked to Nine until taken over by Sky TV in New Zealand two
weeks ago. He was a senior Nine sales executive before
taking up the CEO’s role at Prime NZ. He is
now back in Sydney and is the son of Lynton Taylor, a long time Nine executive
under Chisholm and now back at Willoughby working on sport rights
deals.

A third
name is Graeme Yarwood, who’d worked for Nine for 23 years and was sacked in
minutes back in 2003. He had been head of sales at GTV 9 in Melbourne. He is now
running the Val Morgan cinema advertising house. Val Morgan is part of the Hoyts
Cinema chain which is half-owned by PBL and West Australian newspapers with 50%
each. He could
be the easiest candidate to promote.

Sam
Chisholm and his Chief Operating Officer, Ian Audsley,
are off to Los
Angeles, New York and London after the Christmas party to look at staffing and other cost
levels in Nine’s overseas bureaux as well as discuss programming matters.

Meanwhile, the
deadline for Nine’s voluntary retrenchment scheme is 9 December (a Friday) but
staff are already leaving, with some from Brisbane and the Gold
Coast leaving this week.

And Nine is planning to spend hundreds of
thousands of dollars on renovating the third floor (management) to get rid of
the many empty offices and move promotions and publicity from the second floor
and put them next to programming.