As part of its Four Corners special last night, reporter Marian Wilkinson put written questions to TEN shareholder Gina Rinehart.
One of those questions concerned the TEN show The Bolt Report, hosted by News Limited’s Andrew Bolt.
Whilst she declined to be interviewed, answers were supplied by Hancock Prospecting Pty Ltd.
Marian Wilkinson: There has been much speculation in the media about your role in hiring Andrew Bolt after you bought into Channel 10. Did you ask Lachlan Murdoch and or James Packer to hire Mr Bolt? If so, why?
Hancock Prospecting Pty Ltd: ”Andrew Bolt has a short programme on Channel 10 on Sundays. It is noted that his programme is very popular in country areas, yet unfortunately many country areas are unable to receive Channel 10. As stated previously by Mrs Rinehart, Mrs Rinehart hopes that should Mr Bolt’s time permit, that he would consider longer programmes on Channel 10.”
In February former TEN chairman Brian Long went on the record as saying, ”I want to make it clear that in all the time I have been chairman – which is as long as Gina Rinehart has been on the board – that neither she nor any other board member has sought to influence programming or editorial. That goes for either inside the boardroom or outside the boardroom.”
He also said Rinehart had not played any role in the hiring of the Bolt.
“Andrew was on our payroll prior to Mrs. Rinehart joining the board.”
So do those two statements still stack up? If Gina Rinehart is so arms-length from The Bolt Report as has been previously implied, why is she so keen to make the show longer? Shouldn’t that be a decision for Programming?
Meanwhile TEN today has denied media reports that Rinehart has increased her shares in the network:
In a brief statement it said, “The AAP report this morning that Gina Rinehart has increased her stake in Ten Network is wrong.
“As flagged earlier this month, Mrs Rinehart has taken up her entitlement in Ten Network’s capital raising. The ASX announcement from Ten Network this morning confirmed that.
Mrs Rinehart’s shareholding in Ten has not increased. The shareholding of Ten Network chairman Lachlan Murdoch has also not changed.”