You
wouldn’t call the mood mutinous, more one of sullen disbelief. It is
now sinking in around the Nine Network’s Willoughby HQ that CEO Eddie McGuire and his
management team (plus his bosses in Park Street) have little if any idea of
what they are doing.

The way
the latest job cuts were announced, the way the cuts for each program were
selected and then posted on a staff notice board shows that the new
management team doesn’t know the network and its programs. Staff are most offended at the posting of job cuts for the
various programs. Two stand out: the cuts to Business Sunday will imperil
the future of the program in its 20th year, as will those to its stablemate Sunday.

The
size of the cuts show there’s no understanding of what resources
are employed on the programs. Sunday
is down to lose three reporters: it has only had three reporters since the resignation
last month of Graham Davis. It’s also down to lose six
producers and two researchers, eight in all. There are at most six
producers, if you count two researcher/producers as producers
only.

But the
most miserable cut was the position of unit manager. There is only one unit manager,
Cathy Napoli, one of the most respected bean counters
at Nine. Likewise, the elimination of the position of sound recordist from Business Sunday.
There is only one sound recordist on the program; it’s like singling
out a person and sacking them. In these two cases redundancy is
involuntary; there is no choice.

But the
joke is the 15 job cuts at Sunday out of 20 people employed. It
means the program’s future is doubtful in its 25th year. Eddie
McGuire has apparently told Sunday that it will go on, but there’s been no such
assurance about Business Sunday.

By cutting five jobs out of perhaps four full time and three part
time positions, Nine management is effectively saying goodbye. What
people at Nine can’t understand is why Business Sunday
and Sunday have been singled out for gutting, and 60 Minutes, which is doing
well in the ratings, will only lose two producers out of the more than 50 people
working on it.

It’s
not that 60 Minutes is stretched: only two local stories most weeks and a buy-in
from overseas are used most Sunday nights. Not exactly
hard work. The program has something like 16 producers of varying grades: for
some it is like working in
semi-retirement.

The Today
Show
is losing nine
staff, including seven producers and reporters in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. It
means the program will go back to being effectively run from Sydney with mostly live items. The prospect of
watching more of Jessica Rowe and Karl Stefanovic is
sure to upset viewers who have already shown their unhappiness with the program
by switching over to Seven’s Sunrise in their thousands.

The
morning and 4.30 pm news broadcasts will go, as will Nightline. There’s
talk of the news and current affairs division being $15 million over budget, but
it’s been that way for the past two years. Chasing stories like Timor, the Solomons, Beaconsfield and
elections take time and lots of money, as does haring off to Germany
to watch the World Cup Soccer.

And
where did the $2.6 million Eddie handed over to the two miners effectively come
from? The news budget, or the corporate
overhead? And
that World Cup junket has got right up the noses of a lot of Nine employees. Even though the sponsors of The Footy Shows are being
tapped to fund much of the cost, the broadcast from Germany will cost
money and the time of valuable staff.

Eddie
is going and Ray Martin and others: who’s paying for them? If it is Nine, then
that money should really be going to the bottom line which is under pressure: if
it’s sponsors, then that money should also be going to the bottom
line.

The
offensive list at Nine was prepared by people with a
flow chart mentality and no knowledge or understanding of actual staffing
levels. It is
an exercise in corporate cupidity, to which Gary Linnell has now added his signature by taking the top job
and replacing Mark Llewellyn.