Credit where it’s due: David Gyngell

creditLogoFNl-234x1021-234x102The departure of David Gyngell from the helm of Nine ends an era in TV and marks the loss of a unique character, but his business success deserves Credit Where it’s Due.

There is unlikely to be another TV CEO in the mould of David Gyngell, a throwback to the old school of doing business where punches are thrown, sensibilities offended and TV was king – and for that alone, we give him Credit Where It’s Due.

As “Gyng” steps away from Nine for the second time, he leaves an impressive legacy, perhaps the very last TV executive we will see who from the moment of his birth was immersed in the business of the glowing screen that dominated Australia’s living rooms.

Gyngell has lived through the four ages of Nine as the son of the man who introduced the Packer owned network and television to Australians, running the network under Kerry Packer, running the all-ecompassing  network and publishing business under CVC, and the last stage as the listed Nine Entertainment, bringing him back to his TV roots.

For a man with such deep roots, it would be easy to simply highlight the return of Nine to a competitive stance against Seven. While no longer “Still the One”, Nine has managed to rebuild its offer under Gyngell’s leadership.

More recently, unburdened by the dual challenge of running a broadcasting and publishing business, his freedom to concentrate on TV has been to the network’s benefit as it gives Seven a serious run for its money.

His sale of the ACP to Bauer in 2012 removed the shackles many observers said was facing the group as print revenues dwindled.

On the TV front it was Gyngell’s early support for shows such as The Block, which have created the foundation for this. So to, the continued support for flagship sports such as cricket and the NRL. Securing the NRL rights this year has sent his pay TV rivals scuttling to find an answer – more likely one that involves handing large stacks of cash to Nine.

Gyngell: ‘I like to think of myself as the TV guy’

Gyngell: ‘I like to think of myself as the TV guy’

Even his handling of the impact of the digital interlopers such as Netflix has been countered with streaming services such as Stan – and the terrestrial channels are all about to be given the streaming treatment as well as the network announces its main channel would have an HD feed. Cricket fans are happy.

And then there is the digital diversification with projects such as Yellow Brick Road.Yet, despite TV being in his DNA and his “business” credentials not exactly of the McKinsey and Harvard Business School nature, his biggest success was unquestionably as a business-saving deal maker.When Gyngell returned  in 2007 Nine was on the brink and the refinancing out of the back of the CVC deal gave the network the breathing space to rebuild.

He did it by virtue of the force of his personality and strength of character and it was an impressive effort for a man who was not classically trained in the business sense.

His second major achievement was the float of Nine Entertainment Group, a move that reset the foundations of the business.

Having sat at the knee of Packer then doing the unthinkable and resigning, Gyngell’s return to the business saw him having to repair Nine on many fronts. From withdrawing from the rabbit hole that was Eddie McGuire’s leadership, to finding new programming and bringing news – Nine’s perrenial strength – back to the fore.

And he has done it with a measure of wit and good humour.

Challenged by an ABC reporter on how Nine would pay for its hugely expensive cricket rights earlier this year, Gyngell retorted: “With money.”

In his farewell note to staff he said even in leaving, he would continue to be a force for good at Nine.

“I will remain on the NEC board and of course take a close, keen and barracking interest in the continued good fortune of Nine and its people,” Gyngell wrote.

“And I’ll of course be happy to hear from anyone who wants to say hello, provided they’re not hoping for a yes from me when they’ve scored a no from management!”

Credit indeed where it’s due. We’ll miss Gyng.

Credit Where it’s Due is all about generating positivity about our fantastic industry. While we welcome positive and constructive comments, anonymous or otherwise, this feature is a snark-free zone so please bear that in mind when commenting.


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