Everyone around the top of PBL had a flash title, but only one counted: Kerry Packer. In 2006 we’ll find out which other title counts most – executive chairman, chief executive officer, or the bloke who runs CPH (the Packer family private company), Ashok Jacob.
The great hope of the various media analysts and investment bankers lies in the theory that James Packer will “put Channel 9 up for sale on the way home from the cemetery,” as someone has delicately worded it.
Maybe. It’s generally believed James doesn’t have the emotional attachment to 9 that was attributed to his father. JP’s strength and enjoyment allegedly lies in doing deals. And, in light of the One.Tel embarrassment, James has redoubled allegiance to his father’s cash flow creed. Cash is the real king and everything is measured on its merits. Maybe.
But there’s also a possibility that James wasn’t allowed near control of 9, that he was warned off the magazines and television, a fiefdom variously granted to and taken by John Alexander. After his failure at 9, Alexander flicked that immediate responsibility on to David Gyngell and in the latest reshuffle no longer has direct carriage of ACP either.
So who wants it? In an era of evolving media and mega bets on key sports broadcasting rights, 9 carries more risk than certainty under the new generation. But what should not be overlooked is the way PBL has tried to make the most of its media synergies. The magazines, ninemsn, 9, Sky News, whatever – a core KP belief was that the whole was greater than the sum of the parts.
I wouldn’t want to be an investment banker betting my next bonus on the network being for sale whatever the management shuffles and aspirations.