The Nine Network must be a wonderful place to work. Why else would a couple of adults suddenly get scared and leave an inner Sydney pub at lunchtime yesterday when a reporter and photographer from News Ltd appeared on the scene?

A Father’s Day function forgotten amid the chat and commiserations for former Sunday host, Jana Wendt? Or, as I found out, a real fear of being revealed to Nine management in the vicinity of people they’ve been told not to talk with: such as me and several other former Nine and Sunday producers.

Wendt wasn’t saying anything at the drinks except that she couldn’t say anything more than the churlish statement issued late Friday by Nine under no-one’s name: not Eddie McGuire, not Garry Linnell nor John Lyons. She was under a “no speakies” clause in her payout agreement

Not one of the trio found either the time or the grace to thank Wendt for her time at Sunday by attaching their names to the statement.

The lunchtime drinks were supposed to be secret, but the snapper turned up and wouldn’t go away and then reporter Brad Norrington had a story in The Australian today.

He should have come and tuned in to the conversation from all the old Nine producers and reporters there. Those who had been “boned” by Nine over the years (such as myself) got the flick even before it was made a spectator sport by Eddie McGuire and his mate Jeff “Buckets” Browne.

Norrington and The Australian‘s TV writer, Michael Bodey, might have learned something about what all the old timers thought of the new look Sunday program. While Sunday averaged 266,000 viewers yesterday, down on the 300,000 it was rating but up a touch on last week’s 254,000, the show had a battle with itself, let alone with its competition. Poor camera angles, shots that sat on the two hosts for too long, on screen captions which identified the wrong person, and sets with a clash of bright red and cold blue.

The absence of any reference to Business Sunday was most odd, considering Eddie McGuire promised there would be a presence. Co-host Ross Greenwood promised last week that Business Sunday would be integrated into Sunday, even promoting a BHP Billiton yarn which didn’t appear. There were no finance figures or anything else to reflect the much stated commitment to integration.

The oldies at the pub yesterday were all disgruntled former employees, of course. But they know a turkey when it flies past them on a TV screen on Sunday mornings.

Peter Fray

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