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Matthew Johns flies back into the spotlight -

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Reporter: Simon Santow

PETER CAVE: Rugby league commentator Matthew Johns is locked in talks with his employer Channel
Nine about his future.

There were wild scenes also involving well known rock band The Hoodoo Gurus at Sydney airport last
night as Johns returned from a family holiday in Broome.

His career is under threat after the ABC program Four Corners exposed his involvement in a group
sex incident seven years ago.

Johns was never charged but he's since apologised to his family.

Simon Santow reports.

SIMON SANTOW: The domestic terminal at Sydney airport.

Passengers queued to get their bags while the lead singer of The Hoodoo Gurus sounded off on behalf
of his friend, Matthew Johns.

DAVE FAULKNER: What a life you have. What a shocking, tragic, tawdry business you're in to film
people having a family holiday. Aren't you ashamed of yourselves watching this?

SIMON SANTOW: Dave Faulkner had been on the same flight from Broome and the band, including long
time manager Michael McMartin, had offered to run interference in the face of a huge media scrum.

MICHAEL MCMARTIN: Sorry, can we get by.

DAVE FAULKNER: No life buddy. No life.

SIMON SANTOW: While the rugby league has been critical of Matthew Johns and his involvement with
group sex, there's no getting away from the strange coincidence that the Gurus should come to the
defence of a rugby league role model whose star is on the wane.

(Music from The Hoodoo Gurus)

SIMON SANTOW: Until relatively recently the band provided the game with its anthem, a reworked hit
called That's My Team.

(Music from The Hoodoo Gurus)

SIMON SANTOW: And the band's manager Michael McMartin says he was proud to help out a mate
struggling to cope with the situation.

MICHAEL MCMARTIN: When we went into the airport in Broome, Matty Johns was there. We didn't know he
would be there. He's very good friends with a couple of guys in the band and everyone knows him and
he was there with his wife and two kids, all of whom were very distressed because they had been met
by cameramen up there where they, it was quite an intrusion in them.

It had more to do with his wife and children and him not being able to get away from the press.

SIMON SANTOW: You are not trying to shield Matthew Johns from answering questions on these?

MICHAEL MCMARTIN: No, no not at all. I mean it is not our place and Matthew is more than capable of
answering any questions that are put to him if he wishes to do so and last night he didn't wish to
do so and that's certainly his right but it was more just the invasion on him as a person rather
than anything to do with...

SIMON SANTOW: And at the airport in Broome and on the plane, how did he appear to you guys?

MICHAEL MCMARTIN: He was very shaken up in Broome, his whole family were, and coming out in Sydney
we saw the media scrum and said look if you want to come with us, we will be more than happy to and
he went "thanks guys" just to keep his family away from it.

SIMON SANTOW: After last night's airport scene, Matthew Johns was up early this morning to prepare
for talks with his employer Channel Nine.

The network helped smuggle him in to the studios in Sydney this morning.

Uppermost in the mind of network boss David Gyngell would be whether the fallout from the sex
incident could be contained.

Media buyer Harold Mitchell thinks the network has no choice but to respond to the public outcry by
sacking its star commentator and Footy Show host.

HAROLD MITCHELL: The dilemma for all television networks if their stars get into serious trouble -
no matter what it might be, of etiquette of how they should perform - has to be balanced against
the fact that they run a commercial enterprise and they look for the ratings.

And the last couple of instances, the one we are now looking at with Matthew Johns and the previous
one with the Footy Show in the southern states which was the Nine program and Sam Newman where
there was clear problems, they have to balance the fact that they have a high rating program,
they've got some stars that seem to keep it together and they would like none of this to happen and
I would think that Nine has got a real problem right at the moment.

Where it will land, I am not sure. I think many people would hope that they say this has got to
stop.

SIMON SANTOW: In one sense, Matthew Johns hasn't broken any laws. He's certainly not even been
tried with anything but in another sense the nature of the allegations seem to be so lurid that
perhaps there is no tolerance for them.

HAROLD MITCHELL: Advertisers in my experience are very sensitive to public opinion because it lands
on their doorstep very quickly in the form of sales and who and what they are and it doesn't take
too long for advertisers to have an attack mounted on them by consumers if they appear in any of
these shows.

I've seen it happen before and it just simply says avoid that show. Now if it got to that point,
and this one just might head that way, it wouldn't matter what happened, people would not be
advertising in it. You need to be a brave advertiser to run against public opinion on a matter to
do, as sensitive as it is with women.

PETER CAVE: Harold Mitchell, the executive chairman of Mitchell Communication. Simon Santow was our
reporter.