Peter Costello quits as Nine Chair

"I had flagged retiring from the Board," says Costello as he brings forward departure, with Catherine West to succeed, immediately.

Peter Costello has resigned as chairman of Nine Entertainment Co. after nearly 11 years, including 8 of chairman.

He also stepped down from the Board effective immediately.

Deputy Chair Catherine West has been appointed as successor.

His resignation follows a turbulent time for the media company amid allegations, staff complaints and press stories around the way they have been handled by management. Last week he drew his own headlines following a clash with a reporter at Canberra Airport.

The Board wishes to thank Mr Costello for his contribution to Nine over more than a decade including eight years as chairman. Mr Costello played a key role in Nine milestones such as its successful re-listing on the Australian Stock Exchange in 2013, securing the landmark News Media Bargaining Code and the transformative merger with Fairfax Media.

“After nearly eleven years on the Board of Nine Entertainment Company and more than eight years as Chair, I had flagged retiring from the Board some time after the July Olympics and by the AGM in November at latest. Last year, the Company retained a Search Firm to identify new Directors. The work is well advanced,” Costello said in a statement yesterday.

“I have today informed the Board of NEC that I will pull forward that timing, stand down as Chair and resign as a Director.

“The Deputy Chair-Catherine West has been working with the Search Firm and is well placed
to Chair the company and conclude the process of refreshing the Board.

“The Board has been supportive through the events of the last month and last few days in particular. But going forward I think they need a new Chair to unite them around a fresh vision and someone with the energy to lead to that vision for the next decade. The new Chair will require full support from all Directors as this is an industry where there is fierce rivalry. I do not rate the attacks of a commercial rival. The threat to this industry comes externally from Trillion Dollar technology companies that are competing for its business. To stand still or hope to continue to do things as they always have been done is not an option.

“Since I have been asked many times, I would like the place a few facts on the record.. Mr Sneesby has always had my full support as CEO.

“The Company has set up a robust process to investigate historical complaints which has my full support. I believe it will get to the bottom of any unknown issues.

“I joined NEC in 2013 when it was in the hands of distressed credit funds who brought me in to help with capital reconstruction and listing on the ASX which we achieved in 2013. At that time 9 was a three station East Coast Free to Air Television Network.

“Since then:
– We made Nine a truly national FTA network by acquiring stations in Adelaide and Perth;
– We established Stan the most successful Australian subscription streaming service which runs at a profit;
– We acquired a publication division with Mastheads including The SMH, The Age, The AFR;
– We acquired full ownership of a national talk radio network;
– We acquired a majority interest in Domain.

“I wish the Board, the employees and the Company well. There are enormous challenges ahead but I believe NEC is the best placed Australian Media Company to weather them and prosper.”

Ms West said: “On behalf of the Board I want to thank Peter for his dedication and commitment to Nine. Peter has led the transformation of Nine from a free to air network to a fully integrated media company with traditional and digital media assets across television, streaming publishing, audio and marketplaces. As Chairman, he has always put the needs of the company first and his decision to stand down and pass on the baton of leading Nine at this time is in line with that approach.”

Ms West has worked in the media and entertainment industry for over 30 years in the United Kingdom, Europe and Australia and brings extensive experience and a proven track record to the role of Chair.

Ms West said, “The Board knows that the events of recent weeks have been extremely difficult and de-stabilising for our employees and other stakeholders and we are committed to ensuring, through our cultural review and other actions announced last week, that issues will be appropriately addressed.”

“The Board and management are united in focusing on the well-being of our people in all parts of our business. At Nine, we do work that has an important value to the community and the Board and management acknowledge their responsibility to ensure all parts of business, including our newsrooms, feel supported. We want to ensure our people can feel proud of our company and colleagues and the work they do.”

Mickie Rosen has been appointed to the Audit & Risk Committee and Mandy Pattinson will become the Chair of the People & Remuneration Committee.

The Board recognises action and accountability are required to maintain trust. The Board and management are united in focusing on the well-being of our people in all parts of the business.

Costello added a note to journalists confiming no interviews or commenting further, “so no need to maintain vigil outside my home.”

11 Responses

  1. I stood next to Peter Costello at a Brisbane hotel breakfast bar when he was Treasurer in the Howard government, he is a big chap, quiet and polite, but probably best left alone as he seemed preoccupied with his minders always being close by, though I’m sure that not much would have fazed him.

  2. “At that time (2013) 9 was a three station East Coast Free to Air Television Network”. Forgetting Nine acquired NBN Newcastle in 2007
    Nine officially gained control of NWS9 Adelaide in 2013 and in 2013 Nine acquired STW9 Perth.

  3. At first I was angry with the in-your-face Murdoch reporter, and sympathised with Costello – I too would get annoyed when I am trying to mind my own business, and a smart alec continuously tries to interrupt me.

    But then I remember the behaviour of some of the reporters from A Current Affair, 60 minutes as well as their news.

    If you are going to endorse that kind of behaviour on your side, then you have to expect it from the opposition.

      1. Now Robert82…This is a “statement”..by you….please don’t refer to this site as “political” ..like Q+A…please keep your comments relevant to the topic….David does a great job of informing what is happening in “all” that is tv related.

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