McGuire exits Nine CEO post

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Nine Network CEO Eddie McGuire said that he will step down from the position June 30 after 18 months in the role.

McGuire, who has had dual responsibilities as host of the game show "1 vs. 100," said Friday that he will stay with the network for another five years, with an increased on-air role and a greater part in programming.

Although he had enjoyed being CEO, he said, "My best contribution to Nine is in the creative elements of the business, a thought that has prompted this change."

However, he was heavily criticized this month across the media for an apparent conflict of interest between his management role at Nine and as president of Collingwood Football Club, when Nine's Melbourne CEO Gary Pert left to join Collingwood as CEO.

McGuire's departure comes as Nine, the top ratings network in Australia for the better part of 50 years, has placed No. 2 behind rival Seven Network for every week of the ratings year this year. McGuire's tenure also was marked by cost cutting that saw 100 jobs in news and current affairs reduced last year. His exit also marks the fourth CEO to leave the network in four years.

At the same time, Nine and other media assets were sold off by parent Publishing and Broadcasting Ltd. to a joint venture with CVC Asia, netting PBL $4.5 billion, a move that McGuire admitted made the CEO's job no more than a financial exercise.

"Things have dramatically changed in the past few months," McGuire said.

"It hasn't been like running a television station at any time in the past 50 years, because suddenly shareholders had the chance to (make money on the sale of Nine)," he said. "It wasn't the golden days of television, doing the big productions — it was financial exercise."

Ian Law, CEO of Nine parent company PBL Media, said that McGuire will now work as a key member of the executive team, working closely with Michael Healy, Nine director of programming on concepts and ideas for new shows. A replacement CEO would not be made.

McGuire said he was leaving Nine "well-positioned for growth."

"There has been significant restructuring, and Nine is on track for an improved profit in fiscal 2007," he said. "The network also will benefit in 2007-08 from increased investment in local programming, and I am confident that the network is in a strong position."

Without a CEO replacement, Law said, "The existing Nine Network management team headed up by Jeffrey Browne as executive director will take the network forward."

However, Harold Mitchell, head of the largest media buying agency in Australia, said he believes PBL will consider replacing McGuire.

"A successful TV network always has a strong CEO, and they would want that to happen," Mitchell said.ithstand this kind of gutter attack."
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