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Nine boss could lose exit payment

Nine boss could lose exit payment

The Australian reported that Wick’s payout was worth nearly $1 million, and was signed off by Sneesby. Nine would not confirm that to this masthead, and refused to comment on board discussion when approached for a response on Thursday.

Sneesby has had a torrid time since allegations emerged last week of lecherous behaviour and poor management by Wick.

Peter Costello, chairman of the board of Nine Entertainment, put out a joint statement on the situation with other top executives on Thursday.Credit: Rhett Wyman

The Nine chief executive was forced to front enraged staff from its TV network on Monday.

Several female journalists said they were in tears during the address as they reflected on the years of stress they had experienced in the newsroom.

Sneesby invited women to raise their concerns directly with him. Several have already done so.

Nine announced on Thursday that, on top of an external independent review for television news and current affairs, it would establish a dedicated hotline to report sexual harassment, and conduct an organisation-wide independent and anonymous survey. In addition, all employees will have to complete refreshed sexual harassment prevention training.

Allegations have been made about the behaviour of former Nine executives Darren Wick (left) and Adrian Foo.

Allegations have been made about the behaviour of former Nine executives Darren Wick (left) and Adrian Foo.

“These actions were discussed with our board today, which expressed full support and endorsed this approach,” the statement said.

Nine said the review would be conducted by Intersection, an independent, external organisation specialising in trauma-informed workplace cultural transformation.

Intersection will start conducting interviews over the coming weeks, with the report to be completed by the end of July, according to Nine. Intersection has undertaken a number of workplace reviews, including conducting the Respect@Work national inquiry into sexual harassment commissioned by the federal government.

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It said the report was expected to identify thematic and systematic risks and recommendations for change.

“We want to assure you we will be sharing the report findings and using these to reframe and rebuild the culture in our news and current affairs team,” the statement said.

Nine Entertainment is the owner of the broadcaster, streaming service Stan and this masthead.

Sneesby has also faced questions over the departure of former Stan publicity chief Adrian Foo, who was the subject of a review over allegations of inappropriate conduct. Foo left Stan, before the review was finished, in May 2023.

Sneesby, the previous chief executive at Stan, is a close friend of Foo, who has been spotted at events such as the Australian Open tennis tournament as a guest of Nine, after his tenure at Stan ended.

Straight after leaving Nine, he found employment with outdoor advertiser QMS Media, which is a Nine client.

In a statement, a Nine spokeswoman said: “The CEO played no part and [had] no visibility into the process that led to Adrian Foo’s departure from Stan, given their long-standing friendship.

“The CEO and his family have been very close to Adrian for more than a decade.”

One close observer of Nine confirmed senior executives were openly discussing Sneesby’s future after the damaging series of leaks to news outlets including this masthead, The Australian, The Australian Financial Review and Sky News about the culture in the Nine TV newsroom, and at Stan.

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Some Nine insiders believe that a story in The Australian’s media diary column, which appeared on May 6, alleging Sneesby had called former Sydney Morning Herald and Age media writer Zoe Samios and been “overly aggressive” about a story he did not like, was the first in a series of targeted leaks against the beleaguered Nine chief executive.

That story was followed by the revelations and allegations about Wicks and then Foo.

“It looks like an orchestrated series of leaks,” that person, who asked not to be named so they could discuss internal discussions at Nine, said.

Despite the board and group leadership issuing a joint statement that emphasised unity and a determination to turn around the company’s workplace culture, some in Nine believe the leaks against Sneesby are likely to keep coming.

Nine’s share price has dived by about 30 per cent this year from $2.02 to a low of $1.41 amid a deteriorating advertising environment, which has also triggered a restructure at Rupert Murdoch’s Australian newspaper business and is expected to lead to significant job losses.

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