As foreshadowed in Crikey on Monday, the Nine Network’s head of factual content, John McAvoy is leaving the network, a move that has led to changes in job descriptions and new personnel that has surprised the TV industry.

In a statement issued by Nine this morning, McAvoy said that after 18 years with the network he was “looking forward to taking a bit of a break.”

Head of Programming Michael Healy said: “We’re sorry to see John go. He has been a significant member of our programming department over the last four years. We wish him all the best and support his decision.”

Before moving into management, Mr McAvoy was a producer and reporter with 60 Minutes and A Current Affair.

Healy also announced three new appointments to the network’s senior production management team: David Mason was appointed Nine Network Head of Development, Janine Cooper will join Nine as Head of Entertainment and current Head of Lifestyle and Reality, Karen Dewey, will assume responsibility for the network’s factual portfolio.

What has stunned the industry is that the personnel involved in the reshuffle and the way Nine promoted their talents.

The programs mentioned in the Nine Network release attributed to David Mason are all Seven Network ratings successes. Medical Emergency is about to return, The Mole was several years ago and RSPCA Animal Rescue is one of Seven’s leading ratings winners over the past couple of years.

He was also involved in a Nine ratings failure this year, Trouble in Paradise, which lasted four episodes on Thursdays at 8:30pm after getaway and its positive story on the joys of travel. He produced and directed the series for his company, Mason Media.

Ms Cooper is best known as Nine’s producer of this year’s Logies awards ceremony in Melbourne, which people in the room that night widely acknowledge to be among the most boring and poorly done for years. She also produced Make Me A Supermodel which featured Jennifer Hawkins and hardly set the world on fire for Seven last year. Cooper had three months to get the Logies up and running after Nine stupidly make Pam Byrnes, their in house Logies producer, redundant last year.

And Ms Dewey, a former Seven Network producer, is responsible for one of Nine’s great failures this year, Australia’s Perfect Couple, which screens tonight at 8pm in a half hour length — half the original hour. It’s a stinker of program that Nine chopped in half to try and limit the ratings damage on Wednesdays, giving it a lead-in of fresh episodes of Two and a Half Men.

Dewey’s biggest credit has been the horrible Australian version of Ladette to Lady, which has run into cost and production problems in the UK after Nine chopped the budget by 30%. The 2008 version was one of the low points of Australian TV.

TV industry people say that it was odd that David Gyngell, Nine CEO, didn’t have his name somewhere in the announcement as all three jobs are important to the Network (or rather, the PBL Media stations in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane and the NBN regional Network).

Peter Fray

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