Fuckwits and dopes. Or is it just Leckie being Leckie?

So are media agencies fuckwits and dopes?

That’s one of the more entertaining comments to emerge from James Warburton’s affidavit about the views of Seven boss David Leckie.

If you’ve half an hour spare, give it a read via the link above (the good stuff starts on page 27). It’s obviously just one person’s version of events, but it’s still a compelling insight into life at the top of a TV network.   

Perhaps the most talked about section – at least inside media agencies this week – is the exchange between Warburton and Leckie, after Warburton told him he was off to Ten.

According to Warburton, Leckie told him:

“You know, this afternoon I’ve got to call all those fuckwit media buyers and tell them you have left Seven.”

“You mean all our clients, David?”

“Thanks. They are all fuckwits. They are dopes. None of them are any good.”

On the face of it, you’d expect agency folk to be outraged. They are after all big customers who might expect a degree of respect.

But the first media agency boss I talked to today was far more amused than offended by the whole thing.

Few people seem to seriously question that the outburst sounds like classic Leckie. But for that same reason, they give the comments that level of weight.

Leckie has driven Seven through force of personality, and those comments are part of it. The fact that it’s the number one network probably also helps them feel forgiving.

Just as amusing though is that Warburton has been party to three of the most talked about insults in the media industry.

Back in the days when he was agencyside, Harold Mitchell described him as an arsehole, although he has since revised that to “recovering arsehole”.

Then there was last year’s comments from Warburton about pitch consultants, or “bottom feeders” as he put it.

The fuckwits and dopes exchange gives him the hat-trick.

There were further interesting exchanges in the affidavit. Including Warburton’s own comment that he would take Kurt Burnette, now Seven’s most senior sales person with him to Ten, “in a heartbeat” if he could. I wonder how Ten’s current sales boss Kylie Rogers feels about that?

And a fascinating insight into Leckie’s assessment of the US studios’ output: “We’ve got Disney, I couldn’t give a shit about anything else.”

He, according to Warburton, added: “You can take NBC Universal any time you like.”

But most of all, the whole affidavit gives a sense – and again it’s worth stressing that this is only Warburton’s account – that Leckie’s time is coming to an end. If Warburton’s version is to be believed, Leckie knows it, but doesn’t like it.

Not that he totally put the boot in. There were suggestions beforehand that there would be stories of Warburton and programming boss Tim Worner carrying Leckie. There’s none of that.

And with Warburton gone, Leckie arguably has more time now “Mr Ambitious”, as he allegedly called him, is no longer hovering at the door to his office.

The coming months will be facinating.

Tim Burrowes


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