The Nine Network is continuing its extensive recycling program. Burke’s Backyard, Surprise, Surprise and RFDS were old three program ideas given a new lease of life this week. And yesterday, three executives — David Gyngell, Ian Cook and Graham Thurston — were given another chance at Nine.

Nine revealed yesterday that it does need a CEO, contrary to the view expressed in June by PBL Media CEO, Ian Law, and Gyngell returns as the prodigal son in November, with the promise of no interference from his old bete noirs, John Alexander, Chris Anderson and Pat O’Sullivan: the gang who turned second guessing into an art form.

There was a lot of gush written about him in the papers this morning but one thing can be said: he won’t be the disasters that Eddie McGuire and Jeff Browne have been since February last year.

The destruction of value at the Nine Network by the combined efforts of Packer and Alexander has been legendary, but the latest cleansing of Nine is all but complete as the gang of acolytes and “yes” people they appointed have been marched and new people found, or rather former staff have been found, forgiven and rehired.

Gyngell said he would not be back if Alexander and the others (Anderson in particular) were above him in the management hierarchy. The sale of an extra 25% in PBL Media by PBL has ensured that won’t be the case.

Alexander, Anderson and Packer have gone from management and only Packer and Alexander remain on the PBL Media board. When (or if) the split of PBL happens, and the media assets are shuffled off into Consolidated Media Holdings, the Packer stake in PBL Media will fall to around 7% (Cons Media will own 25% of PBL Media and Cons Press, Packer’s private company, will own around 38% of Cons Media).

Two other old timers have also been rehired to try and put credibility and ratings performance back into the 6pm news in Sydney.

Ian Cook left Nine 14 years ago to go to Sky News after he was beaten in the ratings by Seven. He worked in London for Sam Chisholm, his old boss at Nine, and then returned to Sydney to work at Seven News. He left Seven four years ago and has been working at Sky News.

Cook replaces the previous Sydney news boss, John Choueifate: he and Thurston (who was flicked by the old management back in 2004, but came back and then left again) will oversee the 6pm news and try to make up ground on Seven.

So Nine’s news and current affairs department, led by John Westacott, is back being run by “old” Nine, which is the best thing seeing how much talent has been driven out of the place.

But how desperate was Nine to find somebody who knew more about TV than executive director Jeff Browne (who will relocate to Melbourne and add the role of GTV 9 managing director to his responsibilities) and Ian Law? Consider this puffery from yesterday’s statement:

David [Gyngell] is widely recognised as one of the most experienced and passionate television executives in Australia. He has a unique perspective and great experience in the industry given his decades of tutorship from two of the giants of television – his father Bruce, and Kerry Packer.

Gyngell isn’t actually very experienced: he has only been in TV since 1999 and only in a senior management role for a few months in 2005 before he spat the dummy. But Nine’s Programming Director, Michael Healy, will be happy today because he has someone who at least understands TV and doesn’t need everything explained to them. That is at least a start over the last lot.

CVC is expected to reveal the winning bids for the Nine Network sites at Willoughby in Sydney and Richmond in Melbourne either today or tomorrow. The company is looking for more than $100 million from the deals to fund the estimated $150 million cost to rebuild the network on a fully digital basis, something Alexander and Packer failed to do four years ago.

Gyngell has to work out where Nine is to relocate: the network should really move to the Redfern complex Seven is building and share costs, but it’s too driven by pride and hubris. It has also ruled out moving in with Foxtel at North Ryde in Sydney, but it has talked to Ten about sharing in Melbourne.

Gyngell said in his statement that Nine had “a great pool of people”. Funny, he must be thinking about the network in 2002-2003 before Alexander started his version of ethnic cleansing.