Michael Pascoe writes:

Please, someone stop it – the
Eddie-For-9-CEO-and-PM campaign will smother us all if it keeps growing at this
rate. Besides, according to Mark Day in The Oz it’s a PBL plot.

The imminent appointment of TV host Eddie McGuire
as chief executive of the Nine Network is no harebrained idea dreamed up in a
late-night rush of blood. It is the result of intensive discussions and SWOT
analyses by the most senior minds at Nine’s owner, Publishing and Broadcasting
Ltd.

PBL executive chairman James Packer, chief
executive John Alexander, and several influential board members believe McGuire
is such an inspired appointment that they have embarked on a campaign to sell
his virtues to quell the fears of a doubting market.

We’ve all been duped by
PBL’s cynical viral marketing ploy. And the publicity has at least been keeping
the Nine name in front of punters.

If you’ve tried googling
Eddie McGuire in the news section any day recently – not that I’d suggest you’d
be so strange – you’ll find he’s dwarfing everyone else in Australian show biz.

The Smage
reckons the formal CEO announcement was to have been made yesterday,
but it
seems the phoney executive search is being allowed to run a little
longer. The Fairfax role in the PBL plot extends to a full Nine-focused
page in the SMH, mainly a Tom Burton feature on what awaits the PM-in-waiting. And
it’s not nice:

To describe the morale at Nine as poisonous is an
understatement. The favourite expression at its Willoughby headquarters among the senior management is “under
the radar” – a reference to an extraordinary pact senior executive
producers and programmers put together at a dinner late last year at the Bondi
Icebergs. The agreement, according to a source who attended, was that the
senior team would stick together, stay low and see Chisholm off. Nine insiders
say the most damaging aspect of the turmoil has been the freeze on ideas from
the executive producers, leaving the network looking decidedly sluggish and
strangely lacking confidence against a disciplined and far sharper Seven.

The once famously tight and loyal Nine culture is now a
hotbed of leaks and backbiting, fuelled by the army of disaffected who have
left, either pushed or in quiet resignation as they realised the gloss had
finally come off the once mighty network.

For the first time in memory Nine looks set to get no net
increase in its advertising rates in the annual negotiations now being
completed.

The mounting Chisholm stories surfacing
in various quarters bring to mind the image of the aging executive on the
prowl, repeating “Sam Chisholm, Sam Chisholm”.
Fans of Boston Legal will
understand the allusion.

After the failed trifecta of John
Alexander, David Gyngell and Sam Chisholm, Eddie Everywhere doesn’t have hard
acts to follow – and the publicity is just a bonus.

Peter Fray

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