Is Nine still the one in financial strife?

How much longer can Nine Entertainment Co survive? That’s the question my spies are now openly asking as signs continue to emerge that the media giant is struggling across its various television and print-media platforms.

Nine Entertainment owns the Channel 9 network and print media mastheads The Sydney Morning Herald, The Sun-Herald and the Australian Financial Review.

As one of my very reliable insiders at Channel 9’s Sydney studios told me: “Any organisation chaired by former Treasurer Peter Costello would naturally always have doubts about its economic viability hanging heavily over its head.”

And The Bug’s crack team of investigative reporters have certainly discovered very worrying signs for the company’s future. These include:

  • Much harder questions on the week-nights Millionaire Hot Seat quiz show in recent times in a desperate bid to slash prizemoney (see image at top).
  • Further declines in the quality of Nine Network’s 9now streaming service; and
  • Stubbornly small “books” for the Herald mastheads, with their future in immediate doubt as soon as Harvey Norman runs out of the wads of advertising money the federal government gave the retailer to keep through JobKeeper.

One of my spies told me: “The questions on Millionaire Hot Seat are getting really hard, even the early simple or silly ones leading up to what used to be called the first safe level – a thousand dollars.

“Look, there have always been at least a handful of questions in the final 15-question round that would have stumped the love child of Barry Jones and Frank Partidge. Some obscure 1950s band’s hit song. That sort of stuff.

“Take this week’s shows alone. Who the hell would know the maiden name of Sir Edmund Hillary’s mother-in-law? Or for that matter, how many rivets were used in building the Titanic! Or what the ice hockey team in White Horse, Canada, calls itself?”

Another of my spies added that 9Now had become even more of a joke. “Have a look under the news and current affairs categories. For a station that boasts the best and most up-to-date news, the Sydney and Melbourne newsrooms have just one edition each for viewers to catch up with their local news – and that’s July 22! (pictured below)..

“If they’re the latest bulletins, I’d hate to see the outdated ones.”

And your entertainment reporter can provide first-hand advice of the parlous state of the Herald mastheads.

I get the weekend edition of the SMH and then The Sun-Herald home-delivered and especially with the latter paper, it’s lucky it comes wrapped otherwise it would blow away in a light breeze.

It’s been a skeleton since COVID-19 hit but they still have the gall to put a $4.20 cover price on it.

If Gerry Harvey and Costello ever have a serious tiff, that’ll be the end of those two papers in print-media form at the very least.