More on the TV personality now known as Eddie on the Outer.

Adding fuel to the talk that Nine boss David Gyngell wants to be rid of Eddie McGuire, are reports that Gyngell won’t take his calls or meet with the “resting” Nine star. Not a good sign.

And now there’s even more conclusive evidence of Eddie’s fall.

Sources at 22 Bendigo Street, Richmond, the network’s Melbourne base, say McGuire’s car park space is gone. He used to leave the Lexus in a premium slot right next to the entrance, the spot previously held by the likes of newsreading legend Brian Naylor and more recently Daryl Somers (an everywhere sort of guy with something like Eddie’s former clout when Hey, Hey, it’s Saturday was in its prime on Nine).

Eddie is more of a “visitor” these days to Nine. His mate and manager, Jeff Browne, is Nine’s Melbourne boss and presumably can keep Eddie in the loop, but it’s a sign of just how much the network would like to see the back of him as a $4.7 million cost saving.

And yet Nine freezes out Eddie at its peril. For all his problems with 1 vs. 100, Collingwood and his average hosting of A Current Affair last week, Eddie is good TV talent. He is being sorely missed on the AFL Footy Show and his name has the recognition factor of a Bert Newton or Don Lane.

For all his faults as a TV CEO, he is a consummate on-screen performer. His effort at ACA, while a bit rough in places, was good for a first up go. Certainly he lost nothing when compared to someone like Mike Munro whose hosting was ponderous at times.

It’s all a question of cost and the fact that he represents the ‘old’ Packer Nine to Gyngell who is now a creature of the network’s private equity owners.

So is that why those stories of Seven’s interest won’t lie down? Signing Eddie would be an enormous coup for Seven in Melbourne in particular: it would make the next series of Dancing With The Stars a must watch, and would help Seven protect its AFL deal in 2010 and 2011 when negotiations start.

So don’t forget the presence at HSV 7 of Ian Johnson, the former Nine boss who seduced Eddie away from Ten in 1994 to set up the AFL Footy Show.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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