Nine gets Gyngell, and says “me too” to HD

For those at the Nine Network there must be a sigh of relief as the network announces the return of former chief David Gyngell to the fold after three years in the United States.

Gyngell’s return comes after some high-profile executive departures including the stepping-down of former CEO Eddie McGuire and resignation of news chief Garry Linnell.

David, the son of TV pioneer Bruce Gyngell, was in charge of Nine in 2004-05 but resigned after citing interference from senior management at Nine’s parent company PBL. But now, PBL’s new off-shoot PBL Media, which controls Nine’s east coast stations as well as regional operator NBN and Nine Darwin, is a different beast under the control of private equity firm CVC and after conceding defeat to Seven this year, Gyngell has been lured back to try and steer the network back to ratings leadership.

With Gyngell in control, and some promising programs from its supply deal with its American contacts, the network is facing a new optimism going into 2008. Also hoping to boost Nine’s fortunes in 2008 will be their new high-definition channel which has been announced by PBL Media chief Ian Law.

The new channel has apparently been in planning for some time though Mr Law has still been vague about what Nine has in store for the new channel which is apparently launching as soon as November – a month ahead of similar channels planned by rivals Seven and Ten which were announced weeks ago.

There is also some doubt about Nine’s ability to provide a dedicated high-definition program feed given their lack of expenditure to upgrade equipment in the past and also not having control over their whole five-city network – aspects which both Seven and Ten are ahead in. Nine has announced an upgrade of equipment worth $150 million but it is hard to envisage that being in place by November.

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