Nine commissions independent review into ‘broader cultural issues’ after complaints against former TV news boss | Australia news

Nine Entertainment has initiated an independent review following acknowledgment of “alleged inappropriate behavior and broader cultural issues” within its TV newsrooms.

In an email to personnel sent on Monday, Nine’s chief executive, Mike Sneesby, mentioned the “very challenging period” employees had faced after media coverage on the handling of accusations of inappropriate conduct by former television news head Darren Wick.

The reports, released in News Corp and Nine newspapers, alleged improper touching of female staff at Nine Entertainment events, such as Christmas gatherings and the Logie Awards. Wick has been contacted for comments.

Sneesby indicated that the review would be managed by an outside firm, which would deliver findings and recommendations on how the company could progress.

“I acknowledge the distress and frustration the substance of these reports has caused,” Sneesby wrote.

“I believe we have made positive strides in recent years at Nine to enhance our culture … but the recent reports that outline alleged severe leadership failings in television news make it clear more effort is needed to ensure a safe and inclusive workplace across Nine.”

Sneesby mentioned that an inquiry by an external law firm into the grievance against Wick commenced immediately upon its reception, with actions based on “limited” data available at that moment.

“Since then there have been several media reports about multiple complainants,” he wrote.

“At this point, we have not directly received any details regarding those complaints so I urge those individuals, or anyone with information, to provide it … so it can be independently examined.”

Sneesby stated he had never signed non-disclosure agreements for any employee in connection with a complaint or behavioral issue as CEO at Nine Entertainment, including concerning Wick’s alleged actions. Sneesby assumed the role of chief executive in April 2021.

But he recognized that following “recent reports and internal feedback,” leadership at Nine needed to “accelerate the work we are doing to foster a culture of respect and trust.”

He verified the independent review into behaviors and “concentration of power” at the company that had “eroded trust and fairness within our television newsrooms.”

Furthermore, Nine Entertainment will set up an external formal complaint line for people to submit information independently of management, and a helpline for “emotional or psychological support.”

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“A crucial part of this is ensuring everyone feels secure to voice concerns and to speak up when they witness something inappropriate in the workplace,” he wrote.

“We want to listen, we want to hear about your experiences and we want to support you. “I am very proud of the work we do at Nine. It is vital we confront any shortcomings with integrity.”

In media coverage, employees have alleged a toxic culture within Nine’s television newsroom.

Allegations included that Wick, the news and current affairs chief for more than ten years and an employee at Nine for more than a quarter of a century, groped three women in the public eye of their colleagues. He departed Nine in mid-March of this year following the formal complaint and associated investigation.

Speaking on Sky News on Sunday, the communications minister, Michelle Rowland, urged all media establishments to enhance their management of internal complaints in light of the allegations.

“The media sector has been spotlighted in recent years as an area that requires enhancement, I say that as someone where I work in a profession where standards need to be elevated as well,” she said.

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