Lachlan Murdoch is back on the talk trail, telling people he meets in the commercial TV sector that he’s going to buy the Nine Network. It’s not the first time he’s had these wild thoughts. In fact he acted on them two years ago when he tried twice to takeover Consolidated Media, which is controlled by his onetime OneTel buddie, James Packer. Lachie failed because James wanted around $4.80 a share for Cons Media (they were $2.31 yesterday). The only way he will be able to buy Nine is if PBL Media goes into bankruptcy or receivership.

There doesn’t seem to be any sign of that happening. Selling Nine out of PBL Media would be extremely difficult for CVC Media and the $3.8 billion in debt. The remaining businesses at PBL (ACP Ticketek, Acer Arena and perhaps NBN, if that’s not lumped into the Nine Network) wouldn’t generate enough cash to meet even a substantially lowered debt. And why pay retail anyway when, if Lachie waits, he could still get Nine in receivership if the current slump in ratings means less ad dollars and revenues. This rumour seems to be the newest around Nine.

Last week there was one that had Foxtel buying Nine, which in reality would be James Packer, News Ltd and Telstra doing the buying. With two rumours doing the rounds in the space of two weeks, that could mean something is stirring at PBL Media and CVC.

Three of the hosts on Masterchef have complained of heart pains and received medical checks during the past two weeks — diagnosed with sampling food with high fat content.

There are moves afoot to try to get Lindsay MP David Bradbury in the seat of Chifley, currently held by Government Whip Roger Price. Price, in Parliament since 1984, is thinking of hanging up his spurs and retiring. The push to move Bradbury, instigated by Bradbury himself, has been brewing along. Roger isn’t a happy camper as he would rather see his son, Ben Price, a local Real Estate mogul take Dad’s plumb seat.

Meanwhile, in Lindsay, a rival union to Bradbury’s patrons the Transport Workers Union, may run a very high profile independent against him. Of course, the high profile type, who hails from TV land, is denying a career in politics despite being seen lunching it with a few local business types out in western Sydney.

I’ve just returned home from the NSW ALP Budget Dinner at the Westin Hotel. Lacklustre would be overstating the level of excitement in the room. By the time Nathan Rees and Eric Roozendaal had finished their speech and Q&A respectively I could see how NSW was leading the world out of recession! The financial struggles of the Premier state apparently are urban legends worthy of Snopes.com.

Anyway the silent auction, which I checked only minutes before it was due to close, was struggling. Extraordinarily high opening bids were being asked for some very ordinary items. The Don must have been signing things 24/7 in his later years.

An autograph and framed semi nude photos of Pink with hundreds of dollars for the minimum opening bid? And several bottles of Grange were being raffled — but methinks they would have been worth more without the Nathan Rees signatures. Perhaps he could have done them in whiteboard marker?

Oh the irony that Martin Hamilton-Smith, the Liberal leader who has done more to knife prospective female Liberal candidates than any other, is about to be replaced. By a woman.

It is interesting to note that the Russian Orthodox Church in Centennial Park has managed to get its umpteenth planning consent through the Sydney City Council despite the fact that it breaches the local heritage and conservation plan in terms of height, site coverage, colour scheme, usage, setbacks, parking and floor space ratio.

The Council has even managed somehow to issue interim occupational certificate for a family of five to live in the garage on camp beds for an unspecified period of time. I wonder if this has anything to do with the recent Sydney City Council promotional material which lists Russian as the second most spoken language within the council boundaries?

It seems that Swine does not recognise Border Control. Last week 40 new guards were flown to Christmas Island to replace the previous shift. One guard on board the flight was diagnosed with Swine Flu on arrival which resulted in the 40 guards being placed in quarantine.

Want a free copy of The Oz? Try the lift wells at the bottom of 9 Castlereagh St.

Mark Calvert, the Brit running Nine’s News is known as “Little Britain” to the Sydney newsroom inhabitants. Calvert was pushed over John Westacott as News boss, much to Westie’s continuing chagrin and denial. Was that the reason for his spray at “Nine management” in the Australian last Monday? Newsroom folk are still wondering how Westie managed to exclude himself from that phrase “Nine Management.” He was management.

Peter Fray

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