Inside Move: Seven plus three execs

Stokes hopes ex-Nine mavens add up auds

Good things do come in threes — or so hopes Oz’s Kerry Stokes.

With the April 3 appointment of David Leckie as CEO of second-ranked Seven Network, chairman Stokes has reunited the triumverate that helped build Kerry Packer‘s rival Nine Network into the Oz market leader.

Leckie joins ex-Nine programmer John Stephens and ex-Nine news topper Peter Meakin, who ankled Packer’s operation when their contracts expired earlier this year.

The trio spearheaded a decade-long tube rule by Nine, but after a ratings stumble, Packer dumped Leckie in early 2002. A massive re-shuffle followed at the net, during which six other long-serving senior execs and talent were dumped or departed.

Despite the changes, Nine is — as its promos boast — “Still the One” with auds. And Seven has been losing its grip on the No. 2 spot thanks to gains by CanWest’s third-ranked Ten.

Leckie, Meakin and Stephens have no experience as second place-getters, at least not recently, so the pressure will be on them to turn around Seven’s fortunes. Their arrivals boost Seven’s exec salary payments considerably, since Stokes didn’t actually fire anyone to make room.

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