11 questions asked at 2022 Nine AGM

November 11, 2022

Here is the text of the 11 written questions asked at the 2022 Nine Entertainment hybrid AGM held on November 10, 7 of which were asked whilst 2 other topics were covered by other shareholders.

1. Is it pure coincidence that in 3 of the past 5 years, including today, the Nine and Seven West Media AGMs have been held on the same day at the same time in Sydney or are our two biggest television companies working together to make it difficult for analysts, journalists and shareholder advocates to engage with both companies at their AGMs? Will you undertake to work with Seven next year to ensure your AGMs aren't held on the same day at the same time and well done for offering a hybrid AGM, unlike Seven West?

Answer: Costello scoffed at the suggestion and got on on his high horse about colluding with competitors.

2. Given Peter Costello's past political connections to the Coalition, does he believe he still adds value for Nine shareholders given we now have a Labor Coalition Government in Canberra? Also, could Samantha Lewis outline her views on whether it makes sense to have a politically partisan chairman when the motto on our newspapers is "Independent, Always". Isn't it time Nine had a politically independent chairman, particularly in this increasingly divided and polarised social media driven world?

Answer: Samantha Lewis gave a glowing endorsement of Peter Costello. Watch video via Twitter.

3. How much money have we spent on the Ben Roberts-Smith defamation matter and have we tried to reach out to Seven proprietor Kerry Stokes to stop funding the most expensive defamation action in Australian history. Shouldn't journalism companies be working together on public interest journalism, not funding defamation actions against rivals. Also, well done for standing by your journalists in the line of fire and what is the time line regarding the finalisation of the case?

Answer: Costello scoffed at the suggestion of collusion with a competitor but said they back their journalists when they get it right.

4. A question for the auditor. We are reportedly receiving tens of millions of dollars from Google & Facebook but are not allowed to disclose the exact amount due to highly restrictive non-disclosure agreements imposed by the tech giants. Could the auditors explain what they know about the payments & where they are hidden in the accounts to satisfy the secrecy demands of the tech giants. Have they cited the contracts? Also, could the CEO comment on whether we'll be receiving an increased amount from Google & Facebook in 2022-23?

Answer: Auditor said he had cited the contracts and CEO said the revenue was flat and was largely recorded in the publishing division as subscription revenue. Watch video grab via Twitter.

5. Given the interesting debate across a range of topics today, including this LTI grant, could the chair undertake to once again make an archived copy of the webcast plus a full transcript of proceedings available on the company's website, as commendably occurred for the first time last year. In a further transparency move, when disclosing the outcome of voting today, could you advise the ASX how many shareholders voted for & against each item, similar to what happens with a scheme of arrangement? Tabcorp recently did this.

Answer: will stick with transcript and webcast but no luck with extra voting disclosure.

6. The chairman has been on the board for almost a decade. Is he intending to retire at next year's AGM when his current 3 year term expires and does he believe the next Nine chairman is currently on the board? Could Mickie Rosen comment on whether she is potentially a candidate for chair when Mr Costello retires and what she believes the timing of that transition should be?

Answer: Costello said he would answer the re-election question next year leading into the AGM. Watch video grab via Twitter.

7. The Nine website describes Andrew Lancaster as an independent director. Surely this is wrong given that he's the CEO of WIN Corp, which is our largest shareholder and controlled by billionaire Bruce Gordon. Could the chair and Mr Lancaster undertake to correct this claim or explain how Mr Lancaster is classified as an independent director?

Answer: You're right about the website. We'll fix that but the annual report had him correctly classified. Watch video via Twitter.

8. Nine's investigative journalists, led by Nick McKenzie, published a series of stories about Crown Resorts which led to 3 state-based inquiries, hundreds of millions in fines & ultimately the sale of the company to Blackstone. Crown's former chair & controlling shareholder, James Packer, later disclosed that he paid Peter Costello $300,000 in 2011 to help lobby his former staffer, the then Victorian Gaming Minister, Michael O'Brien. Is this true and why did our chair publicly argue these payments were not for gambling lobbying?

Answer: not asked but issue was well covered by former Labor senator Chris Schacht from the floor. Watch video grab via Twitter.

9. Gambling advertising is out of control in Australia and we even had the extraordinary situation of Tabcorp recently calling for bans on television advertising during parts of the day. It is correct that we are receiving more than $100 million a year in gambling advertising across out platforms and do we support any restrictions, such as how alcohol is treated in Australia or the complete bans recently imposed in Italy and Spain. If a tobacco style ban was imposed on gambling advertising, would that cause a profit warning?

Answer: not asked but issue covered from the floor by ASA rep Don Adams.

10. Samantha Lewis resigned from the board of liquor & gambling company Endeavour Group in April after less than a year on the board. The company said it was so she could focus on her other board commitments & philanthropic activities. When directors walk, they should talk. Could Catherine explain why she is standing for election at Nine today yet quit Endeavour so quickly and suddenly. Were there ethical considerations related to Endeavour's enormous pokies operation & what are her views on the gambling advertising debate.

Answer: not asked and nor should it have been given it was Catherine West who resigned from Endeavour and she wasn't up for election. Sorry for the stuff up.

11. Following on from the chairman's lecture about collaborating with competitors, how are our joint printing contracts with News Corp going. Do they have leverage over us where they could choke off supply from printing plants they own or are we contractually protected.

Answer: not asked.