Many commentators say the current spate of Don Burke stories result from the "blokey" toxic culture at Nine -- and there is a great deal of truth in that. It was a meritocracy, the most competitive place I have worked, but it was also male driven -- from the lunching, sport, and long hours, to the carousing at the bar upstairs at Nine’s HQ at Willoughby, especially on Friday nights. Women found it hard to rise to the top except in publicity and in some sales areas where they became powerful team leaders. That’s why a number of talented female producers left Nine and went elsewhere.
But the current round of stories are missing quite a few names at Nine, starting with the Park Street HQ of the network’s owners, Publishing and Broadcasting Limited (PBL) and the Packer family’s Consolidated Press. That’s where all power resided, not with David Leckie and Sam Chisholm. It was OK for them to make decisions about the lowly and the unknown or the minor star, but for network revenue and profit-makers like Don Burke, his TV program and magazine, Park Street would be the ultimate decision-maker. The Australian’s report this week that the late Kerry Packer rang Don Burke and told him to “behave” missed the point. Should Packer really have said "behave our you are fired" or just, "you are fired" and ordered an inquiry? Nothing like that happened: if you have to single anyone out for enabling poor behaviour, it is Kerry Packer.