James Packer has a wonderful sense of timing. He’s been based in London for polo and Wimbledon as the Mark Llewellyn affidavit burst upon the Nine Network, as the biggest changes to Australian media laws were unveiled, and as Sam Chisholm departed as a director of PBL.

As well, there’s been the added advantage of being out of Sydney for Jodee Rich’s testimony in the ASIC OneTel case in the NSW Supreme Court, which is probably the real reason why he’s overseas.

Sam Chisholm didn’t front for the meeting yesterday, instead tendering his resignation by letter. Which is hardly surprising as he would have come face to face with John Alexander, the PBL CEO who told Mark Llewellyn, according to that affidavit, that “Sam was gone” and “his time is over” despite “James liking him”.

Chisholm ostensibly reported to Alexander as head of Nine, but took Mark Llewellyn to be anointed by Kerry Packer as Nine’s News and Current Affairs boss late last year rather than by Alexander. You don’t snub Alexander like that and expect to survive. When Kerry Packer died in late December, Sam Chisholm’s time at Nine and on the PBL board was up: it was only a question of time.

The publicity over the affidavit made it a certainty to happen sooner rather than later this year (at the Annual Meeting, as was suggested to me earlier in the year). Chisholm remains chairman of Sky News Australia (one third-owned between Sky of London, Nine (PBL) and Seven.

For how long remains open to question, but it would seem to rule him out of the chairmanship of the ABC.

Peter Fray

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