Support for Sneesby slipping as network stars speak out, Nine board scrambles

Mike Sneesby’s days as chief of Nine are reportedly numbered, with major network stars speaking out about the culture of sexual harassment in the workplace, while the board seems willing to throw the CEO under the bus.

3AW Mornings host Tom Elliott claimed on-air this week he knows of “four women who all allege some very bad behaviour by Darren Wick,” adding, “I know the four women – and I think they are telling the truth”.

Elliott said that “the behaviour ranges from belittling and berating female employees in front of their colleagues to sexual harassment”.

Ray Hadley, another of the network’s big names — and it’s highest-paid on-air talent — publicly offered to support any of the women impacted by former news boss Wick, saying that some of the victims have already reached out to him.

“If you wish me to become involved, I’m happy privately to become involved, a couple of young women have already reached out to me,” Hadley said. “The lines have been drawn in the sand. I’ll tell you one thing, it’s got to stop.”

Ray Hadley

Last week, Sharri Markson revealed a “high-profile Nine celebrity” who complained about Wick to HR “had her confidential complaint and identity revealed directly to him against her wishes”. Today she reveals yet another on-air presenter — “a well-recognised face on Australian TV” — made claims of bullying and gaslighting, and felt unsupported by the network.

“There was no assistance provided by the network to source the leaks, stamp out the toxic behaviour or change the culture,” the presenter told Markson.

“After board level, there’s nowhere to go and I was fearful of losing my job.”

Last week, Sneesby assured staff in an email that “if you raise an issue, including making a complaint, our processes are designed to ensure the confidentiality and protection for the individual, as well as the confidentiality of the person who the complaint is directed at.”

Although Sneesby claimed it was “critical” for staff, “no matter what level you are in our business, to ensure you feel safe to make a complaint and know that it will be handled seriously and discreetly”, this is clearly not borne out in practice.

Elliott said of the four women he knows who allege “bad behaviour” from Wicks that “none of them want to go public”.

“They all fear that Nine will want to take revenge on them,” he said.

“It’s a small industry in which we work, and if you upset a big employer like Nine it can be terrible for your career.”

This lack of support was felt in a recent staff engagement survey taken by the Nine group, where employees recorded satisfaction scores in the low 60s.

Darren Wick

The Australian is reporting Sneesby’s “support base at the highest echelons of the company has dwindled” since it was revealed that Sneesby signed off on a million-dollar payout upon Wick’s retirement in March. The paper ‘understands’ members of the board “remain aggrieved that their views on the appropriateness of such a payout were ignored”.

This was apparent in a comment made by a Nine spokesperson yesterday, who claimed chair Peter Costello and the board “did not sign off on the settlement with Darren Wick; it was ­handled within our governance ­processes”.

The spokesperson bluntly clarified: “Mike Sneesby signed off on it”.

Sneesby told staffers on Monday afternoon, again, in an all-staff email, that a third-party will be brought into the network to root out the “behaviours and concentration of power that has damaged the trust and fairness within our television newsrooms”.

Nine declined to comment further when contacted by Mumbrella on Wednesday.


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