Opinion: McIntyre on the media mongrels and Nine's latest board meeting

Paul McIntyre
By Paul McIntyre | 8 May 2014
AdNews editor-at-large, Paul McIntyre.

Nine Entertainment Co’s board met on Tuesday in the wake of Australia’s most sensational corporate street fight in a while – actually, I can’t think of another except for the Packer raid on Rupert Murdoch’s presses decades ago.

Sure, we’ve had a few pub punch ups of late between media agency bosses but compared to the latest uncut episode of Bondi Rescue, it’s rat bait.

Messrs Packer and Gyngell have made my childhood TV recollections of Hong Kong Phooey look amateur. And despite the public, pictorial horrors from the Karate Kids, Nine’s board rallied behind its CEO on Tuesday (Gyngell is taking plenty of jabs and jokes from his troops but is head down, business as usual).

The board’s unwavering support for Gyngell is holding because it believes he is Australia’s best media and TV executive by 33 snap kicks. They can’t lose him.

And this is the dilemma. Everyone digs the bloke. Even rival TV network executives I had lunch with this week were loving the stoush but very unsure as to whether they should. Indeed.

On one hand I love the rough and tumble of two big business names going at it. In fact I love it as much as I despise the veneer of those stitched-up corporate “cleanskins” who in reality get up to all manner of bad or irreverent or just edgy behaviour despite their suits and ties. The Wolf of Wall Street proved that - again. Bankers, the supposed straightest, up-standing of us all in business, are human and/or dogs. Let’s not pretend.

But to be fair to the banker bastards, if it were two banking CEOs going hammer and tongs in Martin Place or Collins St, there would be far greater board pressure to take action. And probably far greater consequences.

Outside their initial “we’re still mates” statement earlier in the week, both sides in the latest scuffle look like they’re going to ground. For good.

And that’s the problem. The only difference between a street fight in Bondi between media madmen and a smash-up in Rooty Hill between punters is one of the madmen had bodyguards to break it up. Otherwise who knows what body bits would be on the pavement; and what charges might be laid.

There are smoke signals from within the Nine tent that some sort of acknowledgement and gesture from the company in relation to violence might be coming.

Certainly something should be done because despite the entertainment and talkability factor for all of us in the industry, I have to force myself to be consistent. If I detest the stupidity of alcohol-fuelled aggression on the streets and the thuggery that sometimes happens on the rugby park with my 12 year-old – which I do – why are the Media Karate Kids special? They’re not but they are.

Basically, more public contrition and contribution from these two blokes on the issue is in order because that’s what is expected from those lower down the food chain. Really. Let’s see how serious Nine Entertainment’s board can get.

As for Packer, he’ll probably take on his father’s strategy: don’t explain. And it will probably work.    

Paul McIntyre
Editor in chief

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