Mediaweek 100: Australian media’s most powerful people 60-41

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 reach halfway, profiling the talented media executives ranked between 60 and 41. After you check this part of the list we will be on to the first half of our Top 40.

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 to 81
Australian media’s most powerful people – 80-61
Australian media’s most powerful people – 40-21
Australian media’s most powerful people – 20-1

Mediaweek 100

Alastair McKinnon

Managing Director, Matchbox Pictures,

NBCUniversal International Studios and Matchbox Pictures appointed Alastair McKinnon as Managing Director in 2018. McKinnon took on the role following the move of Chris Oliver-Taylor to FremantleMedia Australia. McKinnon, executive producer of Glitch and Harrow, joined Matchbox from the ABC, where he was Head of Content Investment and Planning. McKinnon joined the ABC in 2015 as deputy head of fiction, before being promoted to acting head of the division a year later. He oversaw the development and production of a number of hit domestic and international shows including Mystery Road and Matchbox’s award-winning drama Glitch. Prior to the ABC, McKinnon was head of business affairs at SBS Australia. He has also held senior strategic, policy and legal roles at Screen Australia, Ausfilm and the Australian Film Commission.


Rosemary Blight, Kylie du Fresne, Ben Grant and Cass O’Connor

Founding Partners, Goalpost Pictures

The company moves between television and film, but it is in the latter it has had its biggest success. There was nothing hotter than the movie The Sapphires in 2012 which became one of the biggest ever Australian box office hits. The movie was produced by Rosemary Blight and Kylie du Fresne and directed by Wayne Blair. The Helen Reddy biopic, I Am Woman, was another major success, although after premiering in 2019, Covid closures of cinemas meant it was eventually released in Australia on Stan in 2020. Notable TV series include the recent SBS/All3Media drama New Gold Mountain, Fighting Season for Foxtel and Cleverman for ABC and international partners.

Photo: Rosemary Blight and Kylie du Fresne with the director of The Sapphires Wayne Blair


Chris Oliver-Taylor

Chief Executive Officer, Fremantle Asia Pacific

Chris Oliver-Taylor took over as chief executive officer of Fremantle Australia in early 2018, replacing Ian Hogg, who left the company after nearly a decade in charge. Oliver-Taylor was formerly managing director of NBCUniversal-owned Matchbox Pictures. After switching production companies, he joined the Fremantle global board and took leadership across Asia, Australia and New Zealand, for development and production of scripted and unscripted programming. The business over-indexes with Seven where The X Factor and Farmer Wants a Wife have done very well. However, Covid impacted on Seven’s plans for Australian Idol and Australia’s Got Talent.


Nick Murray and Michael Cordell

Co-founders and Executive Producers, CJZ

Nick Murray is the MD and co-founder of CJZ. His background has seen him work as a producer and network executive for both cable and free-to-air networks. His credits span comedy, light entertainment, drama and factual production. Murray is apparently a Mr Fix-It in the office as he is quite handy with the tools. Long-running hits on his CV include Gruen, Home Delivery and The Checkout.

Michael Cordell is CJZ’s creative director and co-founder. He is a successful producer and filmmaker with a wide range of credits as director, writer, producer and executive producer across factual and drama productions. Cordell came to TV after an early career in journalism and is an EP on the long-running Bondi Rescue franchise.


Rachel Perkins

Founder, Managing Director, Writer and Producer, Blackfella Films

Darren Dale

Managing Director and Producer, Blackfella Films

Blackfella Films was founded in 1992 by writer/director/producer Rachel Perkins who was later joined by producer Darren Dale in 2001. In 2010 Blackfella Films was a recipient of Enterprise funding from Screen Australia. Former ABC Television Head of Drama Miranda Dear then joined the company as a producer with a brief to develop the company’s drama slate. In 2013 producer Jacob Hickey was appointed Head of Factual, based in the company’s Melbourne office. Landmark programming has included the award-winning seven-part documentary series First Australians for SBS. In 2012 Blackfella Films completed production on the ground-breaking ABC drama series Redfern Now, developed in collaboration with UK scriptwriter Jimmy McGovern as story producer. The series was the first Australian drama series written, directed and produced by Indigenous Australians. A further season was produced in 2013, and a final telemovie instalment was broadcast in 2015. Screening on the ABC in 2021 was the feature documentary Step into Paradise about the collaboration of iconic fashion designers Jenny Kee and Linda Jackson. A second season of Total Control screened late in 2021.

The Voice

David Mott

Chief Executive Officer, ITV Studios Australia

Although Mott has been leading ITV Studios for six years, he is remembered by many for the work he did leading programming at Network 10 for 17 years. He commissioned some big hit shows at 10 including Big Brother, Australian Idol and MasterChef Australia. His Upfront roadshows around Australia with former 10 CEO Grant Blackley were an annual highlight. Originally one of the Perth media mafia, Mott spent time at Seven before his time at 10 and then went to Nine in roles in Perth and Sydney before moving to ITV Studios Australia. Current formats produced by ITV Studios in Australia include Love Island, The Voice, The Chase, Mad As Hell and I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out Of Here!


Chris Culvenor & Paul Franklin

Co-founders & Executive Producers, Eureka TV

Chris Culvenor is a successful and prolific TV program creator and producer who has launched hit TV franchises in the US and Australia. Shows on Culvenor’s CV include Holey Moley (ABC and Seven), Dating Around (Netflix), Fake Off (TruTV), The Big Deal (TNT), Billion Dollar Buyer (CNBC), Restaurant Startup (CNBC), Going Wild (NatGeo), The Chefs’ Line (SBS), The Real Dirty Dancing (Seven), Behave Yourself (Seven), The Single Wives (Seven) and WAG Nation (Arena). In 2016, he co-founded Eureka Productions with Paul Franklin.

Paul Franklin has a hit record like his business partner and is the creative architect behind Eureka’s hit series. Prior to co-founding Eureka, Franklin served as Executive Vice President, programming, at Shine America for three years where he launched and managed the company’s unscripted programming department. Franklin is best known perhaps though for his work at Shine Australia where, with the Fennessy brothers, he overhauled the MasterChef format for Network 10 which became one of the broadcaster’s biggest-ever hits.


David Barbour & Julian Cress

Co-founders & Executive Producers, Cavalier Television

Two producers at Nine pitched an idea for a show to then Head of News and Reality Peter Meakin in the early 2000s. Meakin liked what he heard and the two producers launched The Block in 2003 to huge ratings. A second season in 2004 dipped in the ratings enough for Nine to mothball the format. Barbour and Cress moved on to produce other formats for Nine and to also work for David Gyngell when he was running ITV Studios in Los Angeles. Other programs after the launch of The Block from Barbour and Cress included Reno Rumble, The Chopping Block with Matt Moran, The Chopping Block USA with Marco Pierre White at NBC, Celebrity Overhaul, Celebrity Circus, and homeMADE. In 2010 Nine gave The Block format another crack with a block of apartments in Vaucluse. The show generated enough revenue and ratings to keep it going, and 11 of the 12 subsequent seasons were produced out of Melbourne. In 2021 the show was another ratings smash and possibly generated more revenue than ever before.


Peter Newman

Chief Executive Officer, Endemol Shine Australia

Newman had big shoes to fill last year, taking over from Carl and Mark Fennessy when they departed the production business. Having been with Shine/Endemol Shine Australia for eight years, most recently as Chief Content Officer, Newman now steers the largest maker of Australian content for the commercial FTA broadcasters. He oversees some of the biggest unscripted production slates in the world, which includes MasterChef Australia, Big Brother, Australian Survivor, Married at First Sight and Lego Masters. Prior to Shine, Newman was head of production and development at Australian broadcaster SBS.


Brian Gallagher

Chief Sales Officer, Southern Cross Austereo

Brian Gallagher leads a sales force selling Australia’s biggest commercial radio network with 99 licences across all cap city markets plus regional Australia. The TV business covers regional Australia where SCA is again selling the Network 10 signal into most markets after its affiliation deal with Nine wasn’t renewed. One of his biggest recent adventures has been the Boomtown initiative which brought together regional media companies to better explain the size of the audiences to advertisers. Another big play earlier this year was when SCA launched its own audio app LiSTNR which is home for the company’s growing live radio stations and even fast-growing portfolio of podcasts. Gallagher has worked in radio, free to air TV, pay TV, content marketing and program production. His role call of employers includes Nine Network, Ten and Ignite Media Brands where he was CEO prior to joining SCA.


Peter Zavecz

Managing Director, Victoria and Tasmania Publishing, News Corp Australia

There are few better people to talk about the impact of the mega-merger of The Herald and The Sun News-Pictorial newspapers on the Herald and Weekly Times since 1990 than Peter Zavecz. He began his career at HWT in 1975 as a copy clerk on The Herald newspaper. Over the course of more than two decades, he held various positions at News including Advertising Sales Director at HWT. He later moved into magazines running sales at ACP Magazines for a decade. As to why he decided to depart Pacific Magazines in 2016, where he was CEO, and return to News Victoria, aka Herald & Weekly Times, Zavecz said he was presented with too good an opportunity. He had never relocated to Sydney in his years at ACP and Pacific and was commuting from Melbourne each week. He told Mediaweek: “I was travelling Monday to Thursday initially and then it became Monday to Friday when I took over the CEO role. I was with Pacific for 11 years, first as Commercial Director and then as Director of Magazines and Chief Executive. It got to a point where I felt it was time to come back to Melbourne.”


Mark Frain

Chief Executive Officer, Foxtel Media

After graduating in sports media and journalism from the University of Leeds at the turn of the century, Mark Frain soon found himself in Australia and a role at sales representation business MCN in 2003. He has been there ever since rising to the role of National Sales Director. When the business rebranded as Foxtel Media he took on the role of Chief Sales and Marketing Officer under then chief executive Anthony Fitzgerald. Frain later replaced Fitzgerald in the top job in mid-2018. These days Foxtel Media is a leaner operation than it once was as it manages the ad load across linear and digital delivery, respecting that people who have paid to watch content expect to have fewer commercial interruptions. The business has held a number of content showcases during 2021, with Frain introducing new offerings including Foxtel Xplore, Audience targeting on Kayo, addressable audience targeting on Foxtel Go, the ability to target in-venue viewers on Fox Venues, and a new Dynamic Trading Platform.


Lou Barrett

Managing Director of National Sales, News Corp Australia

Lou Barrett is responsible for managing News Corp Australia’s national sales and key existing network client relationships, and is focused on strengthening the company’s relationships to its advertising clients. Barrett is the former Executive General Manager of Network 10. She joined the television business in 2013 as its Chief Sales Officer and was promoted to the GM role in September 2015. She was previously Director of Sales at Bauer Media and held various roles at Nine Entertainment Co including Managing Director – Powered and Director of Sales Integration & Group Trading. Barrett worked in radio earlier in her career – 12 years as Director of Sales at 2UE and then just under three years as General Manager of Macquarie Radio Network.


Rod Prosser

Chief Sales Officer, ViacomCBS Australia & New Zealand

Rod Prosser was appointed 10 ViacomCBS’ Chief Sales Officer in February 2020, with overall responsibility for the advertising sales function of the organisation in Australia and New Zealand. He was previously Network 10’s Chief Sales Officer from August 2018 and led the rebuilding and insourcing of the sales team after it was run for a time by MCN. Prosser joined Network 10 in 2010 and has held a number of senior roles including Executive General Manager, Revenue and Client Partnerships, Sales Director of Brisbane and Sydney, National Head of Trading and Sport Sales and General Manager of 10’s Brisbane and South-East Queensland station, TVQ. He is also a member of the ViacomCBS Australia and New Zealand executive leadership team. Prior to joining Network 10, Prosser spent 12 years in senior sales roles at the Nine Network and ACP Magazines.

Winter Olympics

Kurt Burnette

Chief Revenue Officer and Director of Olympic, Paralympic & Commonwealth Games, Seven West Media

Burnette is responsible for growing the company’s current revenue streams and establishing new revenue opportunities for Seven West Media. He is also responsible for the company’s business development process including the activation of an incubator for new revenue opportunities as the company expands its presence beyond broadcast television. Prior to his appointment as Chief Revenue Officer, he was Chief Sales and Digital Officer for Seven West Media. In a 20-year career with the Seven Network, Burnette has also been Sports Sales Manager, Sydney Sales Director and Network Director of Sales. Speaking to Mediaweek after Seven’s 2022 Upfront, Burnette was bullish about Australia’s medal hopes and Seven’s revenue projections from Birmingham 2022. It’s not hard to see why Seven is keen to get former audience favourite formats My Kitchen Rules and Apartment Rules back in the schedule. Burnette confirmed they have been amongst the most successful integration properties Seven has ever had. “Big Brother is up there too,” he added. “Both of those returning brands are known, and they are new. Look at what happened with Hey Hey. People like familiar brands, but they also want to see them in a new light. Our biggest ongoing integration properties though are our sporting events.”


Michael Stephenson

Chief Sales Officer, Nine Entertainment Co

Michael Stephenson was appointed to his current role in March 2016 and is responsible for the overall advertising revenue performance of Nine Entertainment Co. across both broadcast, digital, radio and publishing assets. Previously, he was the Director of Sales for Nine Network from 2011, and more recently Director of Sales for Nine Entertainment Co. Prior to Nine, Stephenson was the Director of Sales for ninemsn and has held various roles at both the Seven and 10 Networks during his 25 years in media sales. On July 1 2021 the WIN TV network started retransmitting the Nine signal again in a new regional affiliation deal. The company is also looking at making buying the national audience easier. “We are aligning the WIN regional sales team alongside our existing team,” Stephenson told Mediaweek. “We have co-located the teams in the five metro markets into our offices. They are now all under the leadership of Ash Earnshaw, our director of sales for regional television.”


Lewis Martin

Head of Network Sport and Melbourne Managing Director, Seven Network

Lewis Martin joined Seven as a sales executive in 1994 and in 2008 was appointed Managing Director of Seven Melbourne. He later added the role of Head of Sport after Saul Shtein stepped down in 2019. In addition to the day to day running of Seven Melbourne, Martin looks after the sports rights at the channel led by the AFL and Cricket Australia deals. Seven is also the biggest broadcaster of thoroughbred horseracing and has the FTA rights for Supercars Australia. Lewis is a board member of the Royal Children’s Hospital Good Friday Appeal, a Director of the Royal Children’s Hospital Foundation, a Director of the Cure for MND Foundation and an advisor to a number of Melbourne based not-for-profit organisations. He is also on the board of and a member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

Cricket World Cup

Steve Crawley

Executive Director, Fox Sports

Just 12 months ago Steve Crawley was promoted to the role of Executive Director, Fox Sports. In that role he leads the Fox Sports business nationwide including Fox Footy in Melbourne. That includes all sports production, programming, budgets, logistics, and editorial for Fox Sports channels and digital which together have experienced strong growth in recent years as over 1m subscribers signed on for Foxtel’s sports streaming service Kayo. Crawley was Nine’s Head of Sport for just over 13 years and for almost six years before his promotion in 2020, he was Fox Sports’ Head of Television. His channels could have some of their biggest audiences ever during the Ashes Tour 2021/22.


Ita Buttrose

Chairperson, ABC

Ita Buttrose has held executive and editing roles for several Australian media companies including Australian Consolidated Press, News Limited and Fairfax, and has run her own media company, Capricorn Publishing. She has served on the boards of Australian Consolidated Press, News Corp Australia, and Television & Telecasters Pty Ltd (Network 10). She has worked in print, radio and television and has written 11 books. Buttrose was inducted into the Australian Media Hall of Fame in 2017. A founding member and former president of Chief Executive Women, Buttrose chaired Arthritis Australia from 2003 to 2006 and later Alzheimer’s (now Dementia) Australia from 2011 to 2014 and is now National Ambassador for Dementia Australia. She is patron of Macular Disease Foundation Australia.

Mediaweek 100

Peter Costello

Chairman, Nine Entertainment Co

Peter Costello was appointed to the board in February 2013 as an independent, non-executive director and in March 2016 became chairman of the board. He is also a member of the audit & risk management committee. Not many chairs of media companies made this list, but Costello was key to the appointment of Mike Sneesby as the new CEO of Nine earlier in 2021. Costello is also chairman of the Board of Guardians of Australia’s Future Fund and serves on a number of domestic and international advisory boards. Costello was a member of the Australian House of Representatives from 1990 to 2009 and Treasurer of the Commonwealth of Australia from March 1996 to December 2007. From 2009, he has worked as a corporate advisor in the field of mergers, acquisitions and foreign investment. Costello fields questions at board meetings comfortably, just like he used to in Parliament.

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