It’s a tough game in telly.
Just days after Nine’s Sydney newsreader Mark Ferguson was moved from weeknight to weekend newsreading, now there is a story circulating that the network’s new boss himself, John Wesacott, could be next to go.
The Daily Telegraph reports that CEO David Gyngell “is poised to point the bone at his henchman.”
According to the newspaper, Westacott’s position has been undermined by the promotion of former British TV boss Mark Calvert to a new role of national director of news.
Calvert, who was hired by Gyngell to freshen up the Today show and advise on its programming about 18 months ago, has been given the reins to improve news ratings in the key markets of Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.
Sydney news director Ian Cook, who championed Michael Usher for the 6pm job, has been all but demoted in the reshuffle, now answerable to the former BBC and Sky News reporter.
Calvert’s rise was played down by Nine publicity yesterday as “a nuts and bolts appointment”.
He is to report to Westacott, who – relieved of key duties – is said to be returning his focus to current affairs flagship 60 Minutes.
Last year Westacott was at the centre of a discrimination case brought by former Nine reporter Christine Spiteri, a claim that dragged on until it was eventually settled out of court.
Calvert, whose wife Belinda Russell is a reporter on A Current Affair, has won high praise within Nine, with an insider stating he is “in thick” with Gyngell.
Meanwhile, the always insightful Tracy Spicer writes today that Nine’s issues are not solved by switching presenters.
“… is it just the bland leading the bland? Why bother respraying the car when you really need to overhaul the engine?” she asks.
“Colleagues watch in sadness as the once mighty Nine News serves up graphics with spelling mistakes, poor writing and, at times, incorrect information. It never would have happened in Kerry’s day.”
She adds: “Economic rationalism, the internet, fragmentation of the mass media, the shrinking advertising dollar and bad decisions have created a perfect storm, holing Nine’s once-mighty news service.
“This leaves Channel 7 in the box seat, with perennially popular Ian Ross anchoring a bulletin that often features genuine exclusives.
“ABC News is enjoying its best ratings in years. Each night the 7pm bulletin consists of well-written, interesting and important stories from Australia and around the world, presented by the cool, calm and credible Juanita Phillips.”