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Nine CEO acknowledges external review amidst ‘alleged inappropriate behaviour’ and million dollar pay-off

Nine chief executive Mike Sneesby has sent an email to staffers acknowledging there will be a review of the network’s “concentration of power”, amidst claims of “alleged inappropriate behaviour” by former news boss Darren Wick.

In an internal email to all staff sent on Monday, Sneesby said “broader cultural issues” will be discussed at a meeting held later that day.

“Recent reports that detail alleged serious failings of leadership in television news clearly tells me more works needs to be done to ensure we have a safe and inclusive workplace throughout Nine,” Sneesby wrote in the email, while also denying reports that staffers were held under NDAs.

“At Nine, I have never signed NDAs for any employee relating to a complaint or behavioural issue,” he said, saying a third-party will review the “behaviours and concentration of power that has damaged the trust and fairness within our television newsrooms”.

“We will provide a helpline for emotional or psychological support that is private and independent,” Sneesby assured anyone with their own complaints.”

Darren Wick

This comes after a separate all-staff email sent last week by Sneesby also implored them to report any “inappropriate behaviour” in the workplace. That email was sent the day after an unnamed Nine personality told Sky News that Wick sexually harassed her at a Logies after-party on the Gold Coast.

“It was commonplace for him to drink heavily at functions and he would often get in women’s personal space. We were revolted by him,” she claimed of Wick’s behaviour.

Sneesby’s email said “many of you will have seen external media over the last few days that draws attention to our internal processes and policies regarding complaints about conduct in the workplace”, while assuring “it is important for everyone at Nine to know that we don’t ­tolerate inappropriate behaviour in the workplace and want to know if there is inappropriate ­behaviour occurring, so that it can be addressed promptly.”

Wick left Nine in March, claiming that after “four decades of working as a journalist” he was “tired and needed a rest”.

On Monday, a Nine spokesperson confirmed that Sneesby signed off on an almost $1 million payment to Wick upon his retirement, saying Nine chair Peter Costello and the board “did not sign off on the settlement with Darren Wick; it was ­handled within our governance ­processes”, further clarifying, “Mike Sneesby signed off on it”.

Mike Sneesby, Nine's chief executive officer.

Mike Sneesby

On Tuesday morning, The Daily Telegraph quoted a “prominent media figure at Nine”, as reporting: “There’s certainly a lot of questions being asked,” regarding the Wick payout.

“People are surprised. There’s budget cuts left, right and centre, it is all about budget cuts, not largesse. Everyone has been expecting job cuts so getting a golden handshake or even a small pay rise if you work here is a rare thing,” they said.

The Daily Telegraph quotes another “high-profile media identity within the network” as calling Sneesby’s sign off on the payment “a slap in the face”.

“Lots of people are really dumbfounded to be honest.”

A Nine spokesperson told Mumbrella on Tuesday morning: “We take all allegations of inappropriate conduct seriously. There is a review in place. We encourage anyone with concerns to come forward.”

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