Michael Ebeid is managing director of SBS. Photo: Nic Walker
In an industry ruled by handshakes and long lunches, the measure of power is not as simple as the plaque on your door. Some offices, such as network chief executives, wield influence by virtue of their roles. Others are touched by ratings gold, have produced the most innovative and edgy programs or presided over long careers or vast slates.
Fairfax Media informally canvassed a panel of experts – critics, executives and industry insiders – to compile this list of the 75 most influential people in television.
It draws together the power partnerships, the deal-makers behind the deals, stars with contract-closing power, the agents who represent them, those with a luminous media presence and the myriad of players, producers and stakeholders who live in the shadows.
Channel Nine CEO David Gyngell. Photo: Chris Pearce
The network bosses
* Richard Freudenstein, chief executive, Foxtel
Steered a path of innovation towards a bigger audience and stronger profits.
Tony Ayres of Matchbox Pictures. Photo: Simon Schluter
* David Gyngell, chief executive, Channel Nine
Linked inextricably to Nine's DNA, and leads Nine in its new golden age.
* Tim Worner, chief executive, Seven Network
Hoodlum's Nathan Mayfield and Tracey Robertson on location with Secrets & Lies.
Built David Leckie's ratings-leader into a stronger, more robust business.
* Hamish McLennan, chief executive, Channel Ten
Grappling with a raft of inherited problems, but has presided over Ten's first gains in years.
Anita Jacoby, CEO of ITV Studios Australia. Photo: Louie Douvis
* Mark Scott, managing director, ABC
Turned the national broadcaster into an innovative, multi-platform leader.
* Michael Ebeid, managing director, SBS
Amanda Brotchie and Adam Zwar of High Wire Films.
Evolved the multicultural broadcaster into an edgy, forward-thinking player.
* Bruce Gordon, chairman, WIN Television
Former Hollywood player who controls Australia's biggest regional TV network.
Actor, writer and producer Chris Lilley.
* Rikkie Proost, executive producer, My Kitchen Rules
Master-storyteller on the reality TV mega-hit that turns pure soap into souffle and sells it like few shows can.
Actor and presenter Julia Morris. Photo: Michael Clayton-Jones
* Brian Walsh, director of television, Foxtel
Television's prince of smoke, mirrors and program innovation; turned pay TV into a serious contender.
* John Edwards, executive producer, Endemol Australia
Robyn Butler and Wayne Hope of Gristmill. Photo: Fotogroup
Most prolific drama producer in Australia, from Offspring and Howzat to Power Games; next up, Nine's Gallipoli.
* Mark and Carl Fennessy, Shine Australia
Leaders of the formidable format silo Shine, stitched up the INXS: Never Tear Us Apart deal and turned The Voice into a blockbuster.
Writer Andrew Knight. Photo: Marina Oliphant
* Tony Ayres, Matchbox Pictures
The broadest resume in television stretches from The Slap and Deadline Gallipoli to the sublimely silly Real Housewives of Melbourne.
* Michael Healy, director of television, Nine Network
Actor Asher Keddie. Photo: John Tsiavis
Is television art? Or merely a numbers game? The latter, perhaps, for the man who steered Nine into a demographic race for 25-54.
* Rick Kalowski, head of comedy, ABC
Bringing edge back to Aunty's comedy slate, from Wednesday Night Fever to Please Like Me and This is Littleton.
Mad As Hell: Shaun Micallef. Photo: Simon Schluter
* Tracey Robertson and Nathan Mayfield, Hoodlum
Innovators in the multi-platform sphere, turned Hollywood players, working on a US version of Secrets & Lies.
* Brendan Dahill, head of programming, ABC and ABC2
The man at the helm of the ABC's flagship channel, which overtook Channel Ten into third place, and its emerging digital sibling.
* Richard Finlayson, director of television, ABC TV
Former pay TV and SBS executive who now controls the ABC's suite of channels: ABC, ABC2, ABC3, ABC News24 and iView.
* Matt Campbell, Nick Murray and Michael Cordell, Cordell Jigsaw Zapruder
The super-indie with edge, CJZ's slate includes The Outlaw Michael Howe, Gruen Planet, The Checkout and Reality Check.
* Sue Masters, executive producer of drama, SBS TV
Grand dame of Australian drama, with a resume stretching from Brides of Christ and Correlli to Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries.
* Janeen Faithfull, CEO, Endemol Australia
The hand on the tiller for the rebirth of Big Brother, and a raft of critically exalted dramas including Offspring and Puberty Blues.
* Tony Iffland, director of content, SBS
Former BBC and pay TV executive who has launched the edgy young SBS2 and re-invigorated the iconic SBS.
* Ian Hogg and Jo Porter, FremantleMedia
Responsible for Foxtel's record-setting Prisoner remake Wentworth, and Ten's first hit in a long spell, the reboot of Family Feud.
* Chris Hilton and Ian Collie, Essential Media
Sydney and LA-based production outfit with a suite of shows, including the newly-commissioned SBS drama The Principal.
* Angelos Frangopoulos, CEO, Sky News
Leads pay TV's 24-hour rolling news channel Sky News Australia, as well as Sky News New Zealand.
* Anita Jacoby, CEO, ITV Studios Australia
Former news journalist who has taken the helm of ITV's Australian prodco; on her slate Paddock To Plate, Come Dine With Me.
* Jo Rooney and Andy Ryan, co-heads of drama, Nine Network
Dynamic duo who turned Nine's once stodgy drama slate into House Husbands, Fat Tony & Co, Love Child and, soon, Gallipoli.
* Julie Ward, executive producer, The Voice
The woman behind the show that re-wrote the book on commercial network "shiny floor" shows.
* Rick Maier, head of drama, Ten Network
The lone gold star on Ten's battered copybook is an ambitious drama slate: Offspring, Puberty Blues and, soon, Party Tricks.
* Adrian Swift, head of content, ABC TV
Formerly Nine's head of entertainment, and the man who brought The Voice to the screen, now jumped ship to the ABC.
* Bob Campbell, managing director, Screentime
Prolific producer of Australian drama, notably Janet King, Fat Tony & Co and Anzac Girls.
* Leonie Lowe, CEO, Lune Media
Former boss of ITV's Australian production arm has struck out on her own in the realm of edgy young indies.
* Deirdre Brennan, head of children's TV, ABC TV
Former BBC channels executive who controls a key genre with the ABC, programming for its ABC4Kids channel.
* David Maher and David Taylor, Playmaker Media
Rookie production house that has made a lot of noise with House Husbands, Love Child and, soon, the political drama The Code.
* Rob Sitch, Tom GleisnerJane Kennedy, Santo Cilauro and Michael Hirsh, Working Dog
Iconic indy production house that broke through with Frontline, but still delivers top-notch work: Pictures of You, Audrey's Kitchen and Utopia.
The star agents
* Kevin Whyte, Token management
Manages the cream of the comedy crop, including Dave Hughes, Josh Thomas and Tom Ballard.
* Mark Morrissey, Mark Morrissey & Associates
Manages Hollywood's Hemsworth brothers, plus Corinne Grant and Daniel MacPherson.
* Sean Anderson, 22 Management
Manages Foxtel's postergirl Jennifer Hawkins, plus Leila McKinnon, Dr Chris Brown and Kylie Kwong.
* Titus Day, 6 Degrees
Manages Ten's saviour Grant Denyer, plus Idol alumnus Guy Sebastian, Les Hill and Bonnie Lythgoe.
* Mark Klemens and Melissa Le Gear, Profile Talent Management
Manage globetrotters Hamish and Andy, plus Sonia Kruger, Dannii Minogue and Andrew O'Keefe.
The indy producer partnerships
* High Wire Films
Adam Zwar, Amanda Brotchie and Nicole Minchin, whose credits include This Is Littleton and a US version of Lowdown.
Jason Burrows, Phil Lloyd and Trent O'Donnell, whose credits include A Moody Christmas and The Moodys.
* Blackfella Films
Rachel Perkins and Darren Dale, whose credits include Mabo and Redfern Now.
Robyn Butler and Wayne Hope, whose credits include Upper Middle Bogan.
* Giant Dwarf
The Chaser's team, including Julian Morrow, Craig Reucassel, Chris Taylor, Andrew Hansen, Dominic Knight and Chas Licciardello.
* Princess Pictures
Laura Waters and Andrea Denholm, whose credits include Ja'mie: Private School Girl and Jonah From Tonga.
The money man
* Harold Mitchell, executive chairman, Aegis Media
Keeper of television's purse strings; Mitchell is Australia's most influential media buyer.
The contract man
* Greg Sitch, entertainment lawyer, Macleay William
Televison's go-to lawman, Sitch's name has appeared on everything from Halifax f.p. to Kath & Kim and Please Like Me.
The triple threats
* Shaun Micallef, actor/writer/producer
As well as the inventive current-affairs satire Mad As Hell, Micallef will shortly appear in the offbeat comedy Danger 5 and a documentary series next year on faith and religion.
* Josh Thomas, actor/writer/producer
The wunderkind star of Please Like Me has managed to turn a successful stand-up career into a hit TV show and a US profile.
* Brendan Cowell, actor/writer/producer
Bright star who first shimmered in front of the camera, but soon proved a power behind it with The Slap and The Outlaw Michael Howe.
* Chris Lilley, actor/writer/producer
Extraordinary mimic who parlayed his hit Summer Heights Heigh into two more series - Ja'mie: Private School Girl and Jonah From Tonga.
The dealbreaker stars
* Asher Keddie, actor
Gold Logie-winning star of Offspring whose luminous performance has turned her into Australia's sweetheart.
* Lachy Hulme, actor
Television's omnipresent leading man, poised to follow Howzat, Power Games and Offspring with Nine's Gallipoli.
* Julia Morris, actor/presenter
Comedian whose luminous performance in Nine's House Husbands has turned her into the show's breakout star.
* Sam Worthington, actor/producer
Hollywood leading man whose turn at producer has put him in front and behind of the camera for Deadline Gallipoli.
* Peter Andrikidis, director
Pioneer who brought film-standard direction to the small screen; credits include Fat Tony & Co, Janet King and Serangoon Road.
* Kevin Carlin, director
Craftsman and the go-to man for a TV series pilot; credits include Wentworth, Winners & Losers and Killing Time.
* Daina Reid, director
Guiding hand behind a suite of pop and power "event" dramas; credits include Paper Giants, Howzat and INXS: Never Tear Us Apart.
* Andrew Knight, writer
Master screenwriter; credits include SeaChange, Rake, The Broken Shore, Jack Irish and The Kettering Incident.
* Michael Rymer, director
The Hollywood kid; credits include American Horror Story, Battlestar Galactica, Hannibal and Deadline Gallipoli.
* Cate Shortland, writer/director
The expert in human emotion; credits include The Slap, Devil’s Playground, Deadline Gallipoli and The Kettering Incident.
The new game in town
* Mike Sneesby, chief executive, StreamCo
* Craig White, chief executive, Ezyflix
* Scott Lorson, chief executive, FetchTV
* Stephen Langsford, chief executive, Quickflix
When compared with the US, where platforms such as Netflix and Hulu have become dominant players, streaming is still in its infancy in Australia, but expect that to change - rapidly - in the next year.
* Some entries in the list are grouped by production company, altering the total.