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In ‘the bad old days’ of TV, women who complained were moved interstate

A former Nine News boss recalls the bad old days of TV when a woman wanted to get away from a man 'monstering' her in her job.

TV news veteran Peter Meakin says Nine’s review into its allegations of problematic and inappropriate behaviour must mark a new chapter for the network as he acknowledged the ‘boys club’ which was pervasive at the network last century.

Speaking with ABC RN Breakfast, “I remember one case where a woman said that she was being monstered -not sexually harrassed, as I understand, more of an overbearing demeanour on the part of her superior. She didn’t want to lodge an official complaint, as I recall, but she wanted to get away from the problem. So I transferred her interstate.”

Meakin, who was head of Nine News from 1993 – 2003, told ABC radio host Patricia Karvelas the alleged ‘perpetrator’ remained in his role while the complainant was moved.

“When you think about that now and reflect on it is that we’d accept now?” asked Karvelas.

“I don’t know if we would accept it now, but maybe we’d put more pressure on her to make an official complaint. But she particularly didn’t want him to be the subject of a complaint. So I don’t regard it as a cover up, but respecting her wishes,” said Meakin.

“You think the reason, though, so many women haven’t wanted to make formal complaints is because they fear the ramifications on their career progression?” pressed Karvelas.

“Look, I’m sure that’s right, but at the same time the ‘culture ‘ as we call it….. is being examined now in microscopic detail, and even in what we regard as the ‘bad old days,’ a number of women made very successful careers for themselves in television, and they didn’t make it by compromising their moral standards,” he replied.

“Think of a number of people, maybe they were tougher than most, maybe they were more resilient than most, but people like Liz Hayes and Tracy Grimshaw and all the rest of it prospered during these allegedly bad times. Some women made careers for themselves and and I think, have very high regard for some of the people, some of the males, who were around at the time.”

Asked what should happen next at Nine, Meakin acknowledged the review underway at the network, for people to have their say or defend their positions.

“I think that’s a good thing. They just have to look forward and say ‘We turn a new page here’ and actually mean it,” he added.

“I love Channel Nine. I spent 30 years there, but this is a new era we’re living in now. We’ve got to go forward. We can’t have a situation where half the population feels disadvantaged.”

4 Responses

  1. Peter Meakin is clearly part of the problem if today he thinks it is at all appropriate to say “I don’t know if we would accept it now, but maybe we’d put more pressure on her to make an official complaint”. Pressure on the person suffering at the hands of the employer? It’s her problem or their problem to resolve? Is it? Really? And also after clearly admitting women suffered, he says (because Liz and Tracey apparently never did?!) those were “allegedly bad times.”. Allegedly? Really? Hang your head in shame Peter.

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