Television legend Sam Chisholm is today
utterly humiliated and considering his future after James Packer backed
PBL CEO John Alexander in forcing the reinstatement of sacked Sunday executive producer John Lyons.

Chisholm
was already furious about media reports that he will soon be replaced
at the helm of Channel Nine by Eddie McGuire or someone else. But now
his authority has been publicly undermined like never before.

Chisholm
and John Alexander have been engaged in a power struggle for many
months, and this week’s developments have dramatically increased
speculation that Sam will soon be gone from Channel Nine.

While
Kerry Packer and Sam were close until the end, it should not be
forgotten that Alexander was on holidays in the Maldives with James
Packer when Kerry died.

Chisholm doesn’t enjoy such a close
rapport with James Packer. After all, Chisholm was very much involved
in the undermining of former Nine CEO David Gyngell, who had James
Packer as best man at his wedding and has been in touch with the
younger Packer since the death of his father.

Eddie McGuire pointed to Sam’s weakened position when he told the Herald Sun
this week: “Any comment on these things (a new CEO for Nine) must come
from James Packer or John Alexander.” What about poor old Sam?

And
why does Sam need to put up with grief from an old newspaper man like
John Alexander? Having made more than $30 million from his stint
running BSkyB for Rupert Murdoch in London, he supposedly returned to
Australia for a quieter life.

The passing of Kerry Packer has
clearly undermined his authority to run Channel Nine, so why doesn’t he
just walk? At this point, it’s all about ego and reputation. Sam has
egg all over his face this morning and has also lost enormous face
internally for making Mark Llewellyn do his dirty work for him when
firing Lyons on Wednesday afternoon.

Not in all his years as a
television boss has Sam had his authority so thoroughly undermined as
when Alexander ordered him to reinstate Lyons.

Sam ran Nine for
14 years until 1990 and then spent seven years as CEO of BSkyB. This is
not how he would have hoped to end a stellar career in television but
38-year-old James Packer and 54-year-old John Alexander have signalled
that time’s up for the 66-year-old legend.

The sharemarket is
the major factor working in favour of Chisholm as investors would be
concerned if Sam severed all ties and resigned from the PBL board and
as chairman of Foxtel. James Packer would certainly not want to see Sam
returning to the Murdoch camp or, heaven forbid, joining his former
understudy David Leckie at Seven, which he could well do as revenge
against Alexander and James Packer.

This week’s drama has clearly ended the myth of a smooth and peaceful Packer succession.