There is considerable celebration across the credible media sector today after the private equity controllers of Channel Nine got off to an excellent start by axing Alan Jones from his $100,000-a year spot on the Today show.
The Parrot has long held that daily editorial post courtesy of his personal relationship and commercial position as a fixer for James and Kerry Packer. When Peter Meakin was in charge of news and current affairs at Nine, he wanted to be done with Jones, but discovered he was a protected species.
The most notorious example of the Parrot’s role as a Packer fixer was the daily raves on 2UE about the Sydney Casino tender process back in the mid-1990s. The Packers were running a line that Showboat and Leighton had a probity problem and the Parrot dropped all pretence of neutrality by campaigning mercilessly for them.
The other classic example was the blatant pro-Packer line that the Parrot pushed during the Super League wars. Forget merit-based journalism, this was bias driven by money, connections and power.
The Parrot won’t launch a major attack on Channel Nine as long as PBL retains its 25% stake, which translates to about 9% on a fully diluted basis for James Packer.
However, it really does appear that CVC and Ian Law have a free hand to run the business as they wish. If Alan Jones is not safe, then there’s every reason to suspect the print edition of The Bulletin will also disappear.
Another interesting test of CVC’s independence will be the three-year ban on Crikey which Kerry Packer personally introduced and then James Packer retained after his father’s death. As of this morning, the only internet-connected workers in the country who can’t access our website or receive the daily Crikey edition that hits 46,000 email inboxes work at ACP and Channel Nine.
James Packer is free to retain the ban at Crown and Burswood, but we doubt there are many croupiers who subscribe. However, CVC’s Adrian Mackenzie and CEO Ian Law are now apparently free to do the right thing and we look forward to the day.
Speaking of Adrian MacKenzie, The SMH is eating humble pie today after gloating they’d snapped the guy when in fact the big picture published on the front of yesterday’s business section was someone else. Typically, the tiny correction today was buried on page two of business.
After Monday’s hatchet job by The Australian, MacKenzie is quickly realising he has bought into an industry with questionable ethics, but at least he’s raised standards by flicking the Parrot.