After giving John Lyons the bullet at
1pm on Wednesday, Channel Nine’s news and current affairs head Mark
Llewellyn found himself having a one-hour meeting with him this
morning, along with Peter Hiscock, the man who was supposed to become
the new executive producer of Sunday and Business Sunday.
meeting was to thrash out titles and roles and Lyons and Hiscock, who
are old friends, later retreated to a Crows Nest coffee shop to smooth
over their differences ahead of a bigger staff meeting later today. The
resolution sees Lyons retain his position but yield some
responsibilities to Hiscock who assumes the title of director of Sunday.
had one year to go on his three-year contract and hadn’t even contacted
a lawyer when Chisholm, who has been monstering the former SMH
editor for months, rang yesterday morning and called him to a meeting
that saw him reinstated. But Lyons did make one all-important call – to
PBL CEO John Alexander on Wednesday afternoon – before retreating to
the nearby Bridgeview Hotel to say goodbye to colleagues.
although Lyons hadn’t spoken to a lawyer before being reinstated, he
had called in prominent QC Liz Fullerton late last year to provide
advice on his position as the dark clouds formed on the horizon.
John Lehmann reported in The Australian
today that John Alexander used his influence with James Packer to force
Chisholm to reinstate Lyons and that the sacking was botched:
At the meeting, attended by Nine chief operating officer
Ian Audsley, Mr Llewellyn read from a prepared script, criticising
several decisions made by Mr Lyons. But Mr Lyons gained the upper hand
by pointing out that Mr Llewellyn signed off on some of the disputed
decisions, including the recent hiring of a freelance journalist
despite budget cutbacks.
Llewellyn had indeed approved
the hiring of freelance journalist Christopher Zinn to prepare a report
on the Cronulla riots when Sunday returns on February 12. When
watching the story, viewers will have no idea of the unprecedented
riots it has caused inside Nine.
The axing of Lyons was
apparently supported by the majority of people who work on the two
programs and is being viewed as another example of Park Street
medalling in the affairs of Nine. Sunday presenter Jana Wendt, senior reporter Graham Davis and four other staff are said to have agitated for Lyons’ axing.
The loose gang of six formed after the much-revered supervising producer of Sunday,
Tom Kraus, took a voluntary redundancy late last year after many months
of frustration at the way Lyons was managing the program on a
Chisholm is close to Jana and finally decided
to move on Lyons this week but he got Llewellyn to do his dirty work
and now all those involved are both bitter and damaged.