It’s
not a good look: Nine CEO Eddie McGuire is off to the World Cup, only days after
sacking 100 people to justify the employment of a senior ACP editor as News and
Current Affairs head at the Network. Eddie
will be doing the rounds at Willoughby today telling the programs what he wants to happen, or rather what Park Street wants to
happen.

Eddie is desperate to experience Australia’s involvement in the
World Cup, even though the Nine Network is not an official broadcaster
(it was in 2002, a parting gift from David Leckie after he was fired by
Kerry Packer at the start of that year). That’s why Collingwood has
been promoting a World Cup tourist package since February and why he’s
off to Germany in the next few days to join the NRL and AFL Footy Shows which are going to
broadcast live from Germany on the evening of 18 June, just before Australia’s
second match against Brazil in Munich.

And Eddie’s
not the only Niner going: Ray Martin is travelling with a crew, presumably to cover the event for A
Current Affair
and 60 Minutes. No doubt his new best friend Harry Kewell (featured on 60 Minutes a fortnight ago) will
feature.

Eddie
is a sports nut but why is his brother Frank telling folk in
Melbourne that he’s going to Germany with his
brother? A case
of the family that plays together, stays together? This is
more evidence of Eddie’s thinking as a CEO of a media network.

News
and current affairs can be expensive, nasty and brutish, especially when rich
and powerful friends of PBL and the Packers are given a touch-up. Sport
is cheaper, more instant and what Eddie is used to. There is also the
saving grace that you don’t upset the rich and powerful by broadcasting sports
programs, even if Eddie doesn’t have the AFL next year.

For
these reasons don’t be surprised to see the Sunday and Business Sunday programs
killed off or merged and switched to the dead zone of post 10.30pm on Sunday
evenings and sports programs brought into the Nine line-up on Sunday
mornings. The AFL
and NRL Sunday morning Footy Shows could very well be getting a guernsey from 9am Sundays: possibly as soon as next
month.

Eddie
and Nine management have noted how well Seven’s cheap sports show, Sportsworld does on Sunday mornings against Nine’s expensive
Sunday. Sportsworld sometimes wins,
sometimes draws even, sometimes loses narrowly to
Sunday.

Eddie is telling people that he wants more investigative reports, more
interviews and news breaking stories: “with what?” is the reply from staff
who have just been told they are not
wanted.

Eddie,
like PBL CEO John Alexander and the new head of News and Current Affairs
at Nine, Garry Linnell, can see the virtue in cheap
interview programs. After
all the ABC Insiders program attracts around 140,000 people most Sunday mornings
for a program which is studio based, with one or two tape segments and costs
next to nothing.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

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