Gyngell returns to top job at Nine Network

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SYDNEY-- David Gyngell is headed back to Australia as CEO of the Nine Network, just 2 1/2 years after resigning the same position.

Nine parent PBL Media unveiled the move Tuesday, with CEO Ian Law calling Gyngell's return a "critical step in the continuing process of accelerating Nine to a position of market leadership."

Gyngell, CEO of Los Angeles-based Granada America, unexpectedly resigned from Nine in May 2005 after 11 months as CEO, citing "untenable and increasingly unhelpful and multilayered management systems developing between Nine and PBL."

Since then, Nine has had a revolving door of chief executives, including industry veteran Sam Chisholm, game show host Eddie McGuire and the current acting CEO, executive director Jeffrey Browne.

This year, Nine relinquished its position as the top-rated network in the country to rival Seven, with a resulting dramatic slide in ad revenue share.

At the same time, private equity group CVC Asia Pacific has become majority owner of the network after a corporate restructuring that saw PBL proprietor James Packer sell off the bulk of his media assets to CVC Asia Pacific, netting PBL AUS$3.5 billion ($2.9 billion). PBL's stake in the Nine Network now stands at 25%.

Law said that Gyngell's appointment is part of a "reinvigoration" of Nine.

"David is widely recognized as one of the most experienced and passionate television executives in Australia. He has a unique perspective and great experience in the industry given his decades of tutorship from two of the giants of television -- his father, Bruce, and Kerry Packer," Law said.

Gyngell said in a statement it was a "great time to return home to Nine."

"This network has been my passion," he said. "Everyone who knows me knows that. In the last few years, my time running Granada Television in North America has broadened my experience and made me a better television executive."

In the new management structure, Nine executive director Browne will relocate to Melbourne, retaining his role while taking on the additional role of managing director of Nine's Melbourne station.

It also was announced that former British Sky Broadcasting news executive Ian Cook will return to Nine from Sky News Australia, to take up the position of news director.

Law said Nine's rebuilding will also be boosted by a AUS$150 million ($125 million) upgrade of its Sydney and Melbourne stations' facilities and technology.

Nine is looking for new space in those cities and is moving to digitize its facilities "to ensure it has state of art operations around Australia," Law said.
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