Nine’s Sale of the Century?

Bert
The new media laws have arrived, so it’s time for foreign companies to squabble over Australia’s media assets like a pack of ravenous vultures. First to be sold is Channel Nine, if you believe the rumours. Apparently the most likely buyers are a San Francisco private equity firm. But given Nine’s poor performance over the past year or so, I can’t imagine that the home of Jessica Rowe is worth much these days. So how about we all kick in a couple of bucks and buy it?

Think of the benefits. You could attend a taping of Bert’s Family Feud whenever you wanted, although that would be never. You could wine and dine Nine’s panoply of stars, including… um, Kerri-Anne and, oh, I guess Toni Pearen, and Jules Lund if you had a gun pointed at your head. And you could host the Logies, if you could be bothered.

But there is one excellent benefit of owning Nine – tickets to the Ashes. I missed out thanks to Cricket Australia’s monumentally hopeless allocation system. But if a few of us became one of Nine’s major shareholders – which might mean putting a couple of hundred bucks worth of shares on our credit cards or something – we’d be able to watch every minute of every match from an executive box. Awesome.

Better still, as one of Nine’s major owners, we could finally get rid of Tony Greig. Perhaps after getting a report on his condition using his trusty key.

Just think of the changes you could make:

  • Give Bert a tonight show instead of Family Feud and 20 to 1
  • Put some funny videos on Australia’s Funniest Home Video Show – Daryl Somers getting attacked by a swarm of hornets, for example
  • Axe The Today Show. It’s clearly going to happen, but wouldn’t it be fun to be the one to actually do it?
  • Turn A Current Affair into a current affairs show.
  • Get rid of the silly new logo that’s just a worse version of the old one.
  • Axe Frasier. Forever. And then torch the master tapes.
  • Rationalise Hi-5. You can’t tell me they couldn’t do that show with two people, tops.
  • Get Missing Persons Unit to figure out what happened to Tony Barber, then bring him back to host Temptation.
  • Ask Jules Lund’s Big Questions to figure out what the Scientologists are doing to James Packer.

As I write this, I see now that PBL shares have gone into a trading halt, so this idea may not be possible – others might have beaten us to the punch. But if a private equity group does buy Nine, they’ll just make a few quick, obvious changes to increase the company’s value – like getting Eddie McGuire to go back on screen, where he can actually help – and then sell it. I can’t imagine you could possibly add so much value to Nine that it would go out of our price range. Because after a year under James Packer’s management, that once-great network is no longer ‘still the one’.

Dominic Knight

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