People can complain about how much Sol Trujillo received for running Telstra (into the ground?) in 2006 but the really amazing payment was the millions of dollars paid to Nine Network boss, Eddie McGuire. $4 million was big money when he was fronting Millionaire and the AFL Footy Show, but now he’s running the whole Network it is easily twice what Sam Chisholm was paid and more than anyone else receives in TV.

And what the reports today didn’t pick up or highlight is that it’s a contract between Eddie’s company, McGuire Media, and Nine — the same contract that they negotiated back in August 2004 to cover his payment for fronting Who Wants To Be A Millionaire, The Footy Show and other on-air performances. It is not a contract for running the Nine Network. It has a term of five years, which means Eddie will earn at least $20 million (and based on the payment in 2006, upwards of $25 million) unless he leaves early.

His base payment is a fee of $4 million. He was also paid another $700,000 to take his total payment for the 2006 year to $4.7 million. $4.54 million was paid to McGuire Media and he received $250,000 in “relocation expenses” to move to Sydney. That’s more than everyone but a handful of people at Nine receive in a year! Eddie also gets more than Seven’s David Leckie ($2.7 million in 2006) who has been more successful, especially in terms of ratings and profits.

Unlike the service agreements covering the other senior PBL executives, Eddie doesn’t have any Key Performance Indicators to meet: his STI (Short Term Incentive) is “discretionary, assessed by the Executive Chairman and CEO and Managing Director of PBL”. So any incentive is solely in the hands of James Packer and John Alexander. That sounds like a case of “How high can you jump Eddie?”

So it is the height of hypocrisy that Eddie and others moan and complain about how much the likes of Mark Llewellyn and Jana Wendt were paid when they worked at Nine this year. Remember back to the Llewellyn affidavit when Eddie and his right hand man, Jeff Browne, were quoted as telling Llewellyn that he would have to eat a “s–t sandwich” and take a pay cut from $750,000 a year to $400,000.

And remember how Eddie’s whisperers let it be known that Jana Wendt was being paid $600,000 or $700,000 a year to front Sunday; the inference being that she was paid too much for doing not much. Now it emerges that Eddie was being paid multiples of both salaries, and more.

Footnote: In the PBL annual report for 2005, 60 Minutes Executive Producer, John Westacott was shown as earning just over a million dollars. He wasn’t mentioned this year. There are reports he is now on “half a Westie” ie on half of last year’s salary. And former Nine CEO, Sam Chisholm was paid $2 million in 2006 and will be paid another $1.099 million when his consulting agreement with PBL ends on 15 October. CEO John Alexander was paid a total of $7.7 million for the year. He will also get a bonus from his long term incentive scheme next year of more than $5 million, 1.3 million PBL shares plus salary and other payments which will exceed the amount he was paid in 2006.

Peter Fray

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