Nine's Prodigal Son to Oust Oz Oldies

30 November 2007

WILLOUGHBY, Australia: Just twenty-seven months after resigning as ceo of Australia's Nine Network, owned by the Publishing and Broadcasting media conglomerate, David Gyngell (pictured) has returned to the fold in the same role.

Much has changed since he quit in July 2005, citing interference in his duties by the network's ruling Packer family.

These days clan patriarch Kerry Packer is closing mega-deals in the gardens of Paradise; while his scion, James, having sold 75% of PBL Media to private equity group CVC Asia Pacific, is seemingly more interested in doing business in the gaming fleshpots of Macao and elsewhere.

Determined to reverse Nine's ailing fortunes, Gyngell intends sweeping changes to the network's schedules. Out go most of the programmes targeting older viewers; in come more than forty new shows aimed at attracting a younger and more ad-friendly audience profile.

Having ruled the TV roost in terms of viewing numbers for several years, Nine recently ceded top-dog role to Seven Network - but Gyngell is in no hurry to reclaim the crown.

Instead he announced to the communications industry at large that his focus is firmly on "advertiser friendly" shows the year round - and not just in the official ratings season.

Addressing a meeting of over six hundred advertising and media executives Wednesday evening Gyngell played it humble and sincere.

"By my standards as ceo - and by our standards at Nine - 2007 hasn't been our greatest year. We have to be straight with ourselves if we're to be straight with you good people here and our audience out there.

"There's some history to all that, which everyone here knows. That by no means is an excuse. It's simply a reality which we must first accept and then set right. We need to lift, and lift we will. We will double our marketing efforts with an increased spend across all media," he promised.

Gyngell's presentation certainly managed to convince Aegis Pacific ceo Lee Stephens: "They will most certainly stabilise in 2008 … they're doing a very good job.," he said.

"It's good to see them coming back. Their attitude in recent negotiations with us has been the most collaborative of any of the networks in the past two months. It's an encouraging start and now we will see that backed up with greater programming choices."

Data sourced from Sydney Morning Herald; additional content by WARC staff