Nine's CEO to host '1 vs 100' quiz show

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MELBOURNE -- After weeks of speculation and denials, Australia's Nine Network has confirmed that CEO Eddie McGuire will don dual hats as network boss and as host of one of the broadcaster's flagship shows of 2007.

It is the first time in recent decades for a network chief to juggle on- and off-air roles in Australia -- and possibly anywhere in the world.

McGuire will host quiz show "1 vs 100," which is based on a European format that has also been produced in the United States.

McGuire is a charismatic journalist-turned-TV presenter who fronted several of Nine's top-rating programs, including a local version of "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire," before he was anointed network chief early last year on a reported salary of $AUS 4.7 million ($4 million).

Nine, owned by Publishing and Broadcasting Limited, has long held the mantle of Australia's No.1 network, but its position has been under threat in recent years as a result of senior management changes, declining audiences and advertising shares, a string of public relations disasters, and vigorous competition from rival Seven Network.

As rumors over McGuire's return to hosting circulated in recent weeks, network spinners have worked overtime to hose down speculation that a director of television was being recruited to lighten McGuire's load.

At last night's launch of "1 vs 100" McGuire insisted that the hosting gig will have no impact on his management duties. (The first 15 episodes of the show will be filmed over the next week at Melbourne's Central City Studio.)

But many industry insiders disagree, believing this to be the "thin edge of the wedge" in terms of McGuire relinquishing his management role and returning to production and on-air duties.

"1 vs 100" will debut at the end of this month, two weeks before the start of 2007's official ratings.
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