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Bullying & Heavy Drinking All Part Of Nine Networks Past DNA

OPINION: The drama’s unfolding at Nine Entertainment raises serious questions as to how much was known about the inappropriate workplace conduct by the Companies former news boss, before current CEO Mike Sneesby was appointed as the CEO of the business.

The Nine network has a history of heavy drinking by news room executives and senior management, with the latest exposure by female staff of inappropriate behaviour by executives exposing a culture that now brings into question, the way the network has been run for several years and above all what is appropriate in a TV network so heavily involved in showbusiness, celebrities and parties.

Their latest CEO Mike Sneesby was appointed Chief Executive, and Director of both Nine, and Domain, in April 2021.

Prior to this, he was the CEO of Nine’s Subscription Video On Demand business, Stan, having run the group from its inception in 2013 the actions of management in that subsidary are now being bought into question.

Darren Wick who was paid over $1M after been accused of inappropriate and drunken behaviour worked at Nine for 29 years and was director of news for the final 13 years of his tenure before he was forced to quit the network.

The big question is whether former Nine CEO Hugh Marks seen below, who quit the role of CEO suddenly in 2021, had knowledge of Wicks inappropriate workplace behaviour, with former staff claiming that they told management about questionable behaviour of the news room boss prior to Sneesby being appointed into the role.

The network has a history of questionable activities and heavy drinking by senior news room executives.

Former Nine news boss Peter Meakin, who now works for the Ten Network was sentenced to at least 14 months’ periodic detention for drink driving and dangerous driving.

Meakin, 64, was also banned from driving for eight years.

He appealed and was ordered to do 250 hours of community service instead of serving 14 months periodic detention.

Peter Meaking the former head of News at Nine

For several years, when the network was run by Sam Chisholm, who was also known for his heavy drinking and parties Meakin was the man who called the newsroom shots.

One Friday during the 80s, senior executives from Kerry Packer’s Nine empire, including Channel Nine boss Sam Chisholm, went to the exclusive Darcy’s Restaurant in the inner Sydney suburb of Paddington for lunch. They were often still there at midnight.

Sam Chisholm was, described by AFR writer Andrew Clarke once as being  a “legend in his own lunchtime”.

From regular Friday night drinks at Channel Nine’s headquarters in the Sydney North Shore suburb of Willoughby to tete-a-tete lunches with one of Nine’s suite of “stars”, Chisholm’s capacity to keep pace with the best and the worst, while still managing to enunciate clearly and, somehow, remain focused on the main game, was unmatchable.

Sam Chisholm Former CEO of the Nine Network

Clarke claimed that on one occasion Kerry Packer was being chauffeured to Sydney airport to catch an early morning flight. It was about 5.30am and the car’s two-way radio lit up with a call from Consolidated Press’ garage claiming “Please arrange for Mr Chisholm and his party to be picked up at Rogue’s nightclub.” a Sydney strip club.

As for the previous network boss Hugh Marks he abruptly resigned in 2021, after five years running the company.

“I have decided the time is right for me begin the process of moving on,” Marks said in an email to staff with questions raised at the time about his relationship with a former Nine executive.

Divorced the year he quit, Marks is now in a committed relationship with former Nine commercial director Alexi Baker, who left the company just before he did.

Mike Sneesby Current CEO

Now Sneesby is under increasing pressure to retain the support of the company’s board with questions  raised about the actions of Stan’s publicity director Adrian Foo who quit the business suddenly after the network began an investigation into allegations of inappropriate workplace conduct, months before the Wicks investigation according to the Nine owned Australian Financial Review.

According to the AFR, Foo, quit on May 28 last year after an internal investigation began to probe allegations of bullying and physical contact that made staff uncomfortable.

Stan is an arch rival of Kayo and Binge which is owned by Foxtel Group which is 65% owned by News Corp.

Nine has been under considerable scrutiny over the departure of Darren Wick, the company’s former director of television news now with their own publications revealing new evidence relating to a person close to Sneesby one has to question why this evidence has only recently surfaced.

The Australian, The Sydney Morning Herald and Sky News have detailed allegations of sexual harassment against Mr Wick from current and former female employees leading to Nine publications now having to follow the allegations in their own parent Company a move that is proving embarrassing for publication management.

Mr Foo is known to be close to Nine chief executive Mike Sneesby, who returned early from a holiday to try and resolve a growing scandal which some say could cost him his job despite questionable behaviour by senior management being a long running issue at the Nine TV network some claim going back decades to the Kerry Packer days when bullying and intimidation was normal behaviour among senior executives at the network.

The allegations against Mr Foo were made by at least five current and former Stan staff.

They allege that they were the victim of, or witnessed, Mr Foo’s bullying.

Last week, Sneesby assured staff in an email that “if you raise an issue, including making a complaint, our processes are designed to ensure the confidentiality and protection for the individual, as well as the confidentiality of the person who the complaint is directed at.”On air executives in other media claim that they know who the four women who have alleged “bad behaviour” from Wicks but that “none of them want to go public”.

“They all fear that Nine will want to take revenge on them,” it’s claimed.

“It’s a small industry in which we work, and if you upset a big employer like Nine it can be terrible for your career.”

This lack of support was felt in a recent staff engagement survey taken by the Nine group, where employees recorded satisfaction scores in the low 60s according to Mumbrella.

The Australian is currently eporting Sneesby’s “support base at the highest echelons of the company has dwindled” since it was revealed that Sneesby signed off on a million-dollar payout upon Wick’s retirement in March. The paper ‘understands’ members of the board “remain aggrieved that their views on the appropriateness of such a payout were ignored”.

This was apparent in a comment made by a Nine spokesperson yesterday, who claimed chair Peter Costello and the board “did not sign off on the settlement with Darren Wick; it was ­handled within our governance ­processes”.

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