The decision of the Nine Entertainment board to host political fundraisers at the company’s Channel Nine studios in Sydney this week has brought into sharp relief the question of whether the company has enough credibility to claim it is “independent, always”.
For starters, having a partisan figure such as Peter Costello as chairman raises immediate questions about independence. This is even before considering the optics of helping the federal Liberal Party raise $700,000 at the $10,000-a-head fundraiser on Monday night.
How on earth can a media company possibly expect to be treated as impartial when it is chaired by a warrior like Costello, who remains active in Liberal politics -- posing for pictures with Treasurer Josh Frydenberg last year and receiving support to continue what is now arguably an excessive 10-year run on the Future Fund board (with the last five years as chair). Indeed, such is the tightness of the relationship, Frydenberg and Scott Morrison gave Costello another five-year term as Future Fund chair commencing February 14 this year.