Mediaweek 100: Australian media’s most powerful people 40-21

Mediaweek 100

We continue to profile the most powerful media people in Australia who shape what we consume via TV and streaming, radio, newspapers and digital platforms.

Today we start the Mediaweek 100 Top 40. The people profiled are some of the best and brightest in the industry. From TV and radio programmers and deal makers to publishing executives, digital media and radio pioneers to sports chiefs.

The list includes a diverse group of executives from “old media” proprietors through to the challengers who continue to grow their businesses.

While this list is not as diverse as it should be, the face of Australian media is changing and we look forward to the list evolving over coming years.

See also:
Australian media’s most powerful people – 100-81
Australian media’s most powerful people – 80-61
Australian media’s most powerful people – 60-41
Australian media’s most powerful people – 20-1


James Chessell

Managing Director, Publishing, Nine Entertainment Co

In 2021 Nine Entertainment promoted James Chessell to the role of Managing Director. The appointment followed the decision of Chris Janz to step down as Chief Digital and Publishing officer after four years of leading Fairfax and subsequently Nine’s metropolitan publishing business. Prior to this appointment, Chessell was National Editor of The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age with responsibility for federal politics, business and world coverage. Chessell began his career as a cadet at The Age before moving to The Sydney Morning Herald. Later at The Australian and The Australian Financial Review, his roles included Financial Services Editor, Companies Editor, Business Editor and Europe Correspondent. Chessell has won the Citi Journalism Award for Excellence and was part of the Financial Review team that won a Walkley Award for its coverage of corporate governance failures at retailer David Jones.


Peter Blunden

National Executive Editor, News Corp Australia

Under the years Peter Blunden edited Australia’s largest-selling daily newspaper, the Herald Sun, he maintained it as the most influential media product in Melbourne, if not Australia. In over 40 years with the company, Blunden has served also as Editor-in-Chief and Managing Director of the Herald & Weekly Times (the name of the News Corp business in Victoria). In addition to his HWT duties over the years, Blunden also edited the Adelaide Advertiser for more than five years, held various senior positions with The Australian, and was the founding editor of The Australian’s colour magazine in 1988.


Julian Delany

Chief Technology Officer, Data and Digital Product, News Corp Australia

In his nine years with News Corp, Delany has seen establish itself as Australia’s leading commercial digital source of news with over 10m visitors to the platform monthly. He has recently overseen extensive redesigns of News Corp newspapers’ digital properties right across Australia. Delany joined News in 2012 from Foxtel where he spent 10 years leading the growth of The Weather Channel. As General Manager he was responsible for the strategy, delivery and operational management of The Weather Channel’s broadcast on Foxtel along with delivery of commercial, digital and interactive products.


Amanda Laing

Chief Commercial and Content Officer, Foxtel

Amanda Laing’s role was expanded in 2020. She now takes group-wide responsibility for entertainment and sports divisions (including Fox Sports) together with wholesale partnerships and the legal services team led by Chief General Counsel, Lynette Ireland, given the commercial importance of deal-making. Rebecca McCloy, Director of Acquisitions and Sports Partnerships and Stephen Baldwin, Director of Entertainment, now report to Laing. She arrived at Foxtel by way of Nine where she worked on sports contracts for the NRL and Netball Australia. A law degree at ANU led Laing to a general counsel role at ACP and roles with other media businesses including PBL, Daily Mail, Sky News, Stan, PedestrianTV, Nickelodeon, Telstra and the NRL.


Brian Walsh

Executive Director Television, Foxtel

One of the first employees of Foxtel in 1995, Brian Walsh has now been with the subscription television platform for 26 years. In August 2020 Walsh took on a group-wide responsibility, leading a newly created Foxtel Originals division, spearheading all local production commissions across Australian drama, lifestyle, factual and entertainment production. The role indicates the increasing importance of Foxtel’s Australian-produced entertainment content in the group’s strategy, building on the success of series such as Wentworth, Upright, Gogglebox, Selling Houses Australia and Real Housewives of Melbourne.


Janet Cameron

Director, Grant Broadcasting

Grant Broadcasters started in 1942 when Walter Grant bought the licence for 2DU Dubbo later passing it onto his wife Christina in 1961. In 1972 Janet Cameron (daughter of Walter and Christina Grant) took over as managing director. Her children Alison (recently CEO) and Dugald (executive board member) joined the company in 1993 and Grant (non-executive chairman) joined in 2000. Janet remains an active board member, although daughter Alison recently told Mediaweek her mum was a reluctant seller to ARN in November. Grant Broadcasters did have over 52 commercial broadcast stations nationally, including five in joint-venture with Capital Radio Network. After the sale to ARN completes shortly it will just have K-Rock in Geelong and its share of the Capital stations. Alison is joining the HT&E board while Dugald and Grant will look after the remaining radio and other investments that include property and a hotel.


Judith Whelan

Director Regional & Local, ABC

ABC Radio appointed the former editor of The Sydney Morning Herald to oversee its talk networks and programs in 2016. After first being promoted to Acting Director of ABC Regional & Local in November 2018, she took on the role permanently six months later. Regional & Local manages the ABC’s capital city radio stations, rural and regional teams in 48 locations across the country, regional and local screen content including Gardening Australia, Backroads and Landline, sport, live events, and emergency broadcasting. Whelan originally came to the ABC three years ago as Head of Spoken Content, in which she oversaw RN, Grandstand and the capital city radio stations. She went on to take the new role of Head of Specialist Content, in charge of the national broadcaster’s coverage across all platforms – television, radio and digital – in arts, science, health and technology, religion and ethics, education, society and culture. Whelan’s career in journalism spans more than 30 years and includes experience as a Walkley-nominated news and feature writer, senior editor and a foreign correspondent in both the Pacific and Europe.


Darren Wick

Director of News and Current Affairs, Nine Entertainment Co

As news and current affairs continue to spread across the Nine schedule, so too does the influence of Darren Wick. He’s been at the network for 24 years and in February 2022 celebrates 10 years in his current role. The division pumps out around 10.5 hours daily on weekdays plus the growing importance of Part of the primetime news success has been the help it got from Eddie McGuire and Millionaire Hot Seat from 5pm weekdays. That news lead-in has been challenged by Seven’s The Chase Australia which has also made an impact on the 6pm news ratings. Wick explained the battle between Nine and Seven to Mediaweek: “Good versus evil.” He added with a grin: “We would say good is Nine. Although I’m sure my counterpart, Seven’s Craig McPherson, would argue otherwise.”


Craig McPherson

Director of News and Current Affairs, Seven West Media

Seven News this year claimed 6pm leadership across Australia, leading Nine News across the five major metropolitan markets and across all metropolitan and regional markets combined. McPherson started in the role in October 2015 after spending two years at Nine. Prior to that he was a Seven for 18 years. McPherson’s role at Nine included work on the Adelaide and Perth news bulletins and he also worked with Nine News director Darren Wick in planning the then new Nine one-hour primetime bulletins. After such a long time at Seven, he suggested it felt different when he first arrived at Nine. “It was very weird from day one until the end really,” he admitted to Mediaweek. His previous role at Seven was running Today Tonight in a very competitive timeslot, brawling with Nine’s A Current Affair on a daily basis. “We lobbed a lot of bombs at each other and occasionally it got a little out of hand for both of us. To suddenly go and join the enemy camp felt odd…and it felt odd for some of the people at Nine when I was there. I had a good couple of years and got on well with everyone there, but it did feel for most of the time the wrong fit. When an opportunity arose to come back [to Seven], it wasn’t a hard decision to return.”

ABC Upfront

Michael Carrington

Director Entertainment & Specialist, ABC

Carrington oversees commissioning and distribution of ABC’s drama, comedy, Indigenous, music, children’s, entertainment and factual content across its television and national radio networks, plus digital services such as ABC iview and ABC listen. Entertainment & Specialist also includes the specialist genres of arts, science, religion & ethics, education and society & culture. Carrington joined the ABC in 2016 as Head of Children’s & Education and in 2018 was appointed Head of Distribution, with responsibility for programming and program acquisitions. In September 2018, he was appointed acting Director Entertainment and Specialist. He was formally appointed director in August 2019. Carrington previously worked at Channel 10 and the Discovery Channel, before joining the BBC as Channel Controller and Creative Director of CBeebies. He also spent time as Chief Content Officer at Turner Broadcasting, responsible for content on the Cartoon Network and Boomerang. Before joining the ABC, Carrington was Chief Executive Officer of Zodiak Kids Studios.


Michael Healy

Director of Television, Nine Entertainment Co

Michael Healy has over 30 years of media experience with the network. He moved into the top programming role after his then-boss John Stephens suddenly quit Nine as he moved to Seven with David Leckie. Healy is responsible for all aspects of content on Nine plus its multichannels 9Go!, 9Gem, 9Life, 9Rush to BVOD platform 9now. Healy started in the business at Channel Nine Perth in 1983 and relocated to Channel Nine Sydney in 1989. His previous roles include eight years as Director of Programming and 10 years as Director of Presentation and Promotions. Healy helps Nine secure more revenue and demo wins than its commercial competitors.


Angus Ross

Director of Network Programming, Seven West Media

Appointed in February 2012 to his current role, Ross replaced Tim Worner who moved up to replace David Leckie as the broadcaster’s CEO. Ross is responsible for the commissioning and acquisition of all entertainment content across Seven West Media’s suite of channels – Seven, 7TWO, 7mate, 7flix and growing BVOD platform 7plus. His previous roles at Seven include Head of Program Scheduling and Acquisitions, Sydney Program Manager, Daytime Programmer and Head of Research. Prior to joining Seven, Ross worked for two years as a consultant for David Castran’s television research group Audience Development Australia. Ross helped Seven back to top spot with all people in 2021 TV ratings.


Julian Ogrin

Chief Executive Officer, Kayo Sports and Binge, Foxtel Group

Julian Ogrin leads the fast-growing Foxtel Group streaming businesses Kayo Sports and Binge business plus the new Flash news streaming service. The new Foxtel Group streaming divisions have been key drivers as the business has been turned around to the point where Kayo and Binge have close to 2m customers between them. Prior to joining the Foxtel Group, Ogrin held the position of Managing Director and CEO at telecommunications company Amaysim between 2015-2018, overseeing the rapid growth of the telco, which launched in November 2010, to become a leading challenger brand in the mobile space. Ogrin’s 25 years’ experience in mobile networks has included senior roles in companies such as Europe’s Tele2 Group and Meteor Mobile.


Tom Malone

Managing Director, Nine Radio

Tom Malone as appointed managing director – radio, as Nine took operational control of Macquarie Media in late 2019. For the previous four years Malone served as Nine’s Director of Sport, overseeing the growth of the Wide World of Sports brand and its relationships with major sporting codes, including leading Nine’s switch from cricket to tennis in 2018. Malone is a former executive producer of 60 Minutes and the Today show. He began his career at Radio 2UE as a cadet in the newsroom, before spending two years as a federal political reporter and several years producing breakfast radio. The biggest call he’s made recently was giving Ben Fordham 2GB breakfast, a move that has so far been a resounding success.


Peter V’landys

Chairman NRL, Chief Executive and board member Racing NSW

Peter V’landys was appointed Chairman of the Australian Rugby League Commission in October 2019 after serving on the Commission since February 2018. V’landys commenced his professional career as an accountant, later working in the mining and hospitality industries before moving into racing administration in 1988, when he was appointed Chief Executive of the NSW Harness Racing Club. At the time, he was the youngest person in Australia to be appointed as Chief Executive of a major metropolitan race club. V’landys has successfully introduced major new races into the NSW racing calendar and brought some of his magic touch to the NRL competition. He admitted recently to Phil Rothfield that holding down both roles was taking its toll and he will consider his future over Christmas. “I just want to think about the next three or four years and the workload,” V’landys said. “It’s been long hours, lots of challenges and hard work. I’m frazzled.”


Gillon McLachlan

Chief Executive Officer, AFL

Gillon McLachlan was appointed Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Football League (AFL) in 2014, succeeding the leader who he served as deputy, Andrew Demetriou. McLachlan’s three younger brothers include Seven’s Hamish McLachlan and their uncle Ian McLachlan who was an Australian government Minister for Defence. After leaving university McLachlan became a management consultant with Accenture and in 2000 was employed as a strategy consultant to the AFL by then CEO Wayne Jackson. In 2003, he was appointed AFL General Manager of Commercial Operations and in 2008 was appointed Chief Operating Officer. McLachlan secured a revised five-year TV rights deal with Seven for 2020-2024 for $730 million or an average of $146 million per year for free to air rights. Foxtel will also extend its coverage of AFL to cover the 2023 and 2024 seasons and the AFLW seasons with all games during the home and away season shown live.


Andrew Penn

Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director, Telstra

Andy Penn took the top job at Australia’s largest telecommunications company on 1 May 2015. At Telstra, Penn is leading an ambitious change program transforming Telstra to be positioned to compete in the changing technology world of the future with 5G at its core. He has a career spanning 40 years across three different industries – telecommunications, financial services and shipping. Penn first joined Telstra in 2012 as Chief Financial Officer. In 2014 he took on the additional responsibilities as Group Executive International. Prior to Telstra, Penn spent 21 years with the insurance and investment group AXA. His time at AXA included the roles of Chief Executive Australia & New Zealand, Group Chief Financial Officer, Head of Transformation Program, Chief Executive International. With a 35% stake in Foxtel, Penn recently supported an IPO, but indicated Telstra was likely to remain a long-term investor in the TV business.


Antony Catalano

Executive Chairman, Australian Community Media

One of the more interesting paths to the top of the executives on this list. “The Cat” was known for his work at The Age when celebrity real estate first became a regular feature. The one-time driver of the growth within Fairfax Media has had a long-time battle with REA Group and now the business he helped build, Domain. In 2019 Nine Entertainment signed an agreement for the sale of the Australian Community Media and Printing business (ACM) to Catalano and his investment partner Alex Waislitz for $115m. In addition to running the print and digital news publishing business, the two are busy working on a property play that just might eventually challenge REA and Domain.


James Taylor

Managing Director SBS

Originally acting SBS MD, James Taylor was named the managing director of the organisation in October 2018 following the departure of Michael Ebeid after seven and a half years in the role. Taylor first joined SBS in 2012 as Chief Finance Officer and has played a key role in the development of its corporate strategy, digital evolution and operation during that time. Taylor has had 18+ years in media and telecommunications across corporate and public sector organisations in Australia and elsewhere. The broadcaster manages to secure programming that fuels audience growth and thereby keeps Governments of the day happy enough to keep the funding pipeline open. Any politician tinkering with the future of the broadcaster would do so at their peril.


Hamish McLennan

Chairman REA, and Chairman of the board and Non-executive Director HT&E

The former CEO of Network 10 has built a career as a steady hand in the boardroom. Best known currently as the chairman of REA Australia, McLennan also chairman of Rugby Australia and HT&E and sits on the board of Magellan Financial. His career in advertising included nine years with Young & Rubican, five as Global Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. McLennan was also Executive Vice President for News Corporation in Sydney and New York for 2012 and 2013 and Global Chairman and CEO of Young & Rubicam, a division of WPP from 2006 to 2011.

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