The 75 most powerful people in Australian TV

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.

The network bosses

Richard Freudenstein, chief executive, Foxtel

Steered a path of innovation towards a bigger audience and stronger profits.

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

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.

Mark Scott, managing director, ABC

Turned the national broadcaster into an innovative, multi-platform leader.

Michael Ebeid, managing director, SBS

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.

The players

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.

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

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.

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

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.

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 HoweGruen PlanetThe 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 PlateCome 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 HusbandsFat Tony & CoLove 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: OffspringPuberty 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 KingFat 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 HusbandsLove Child and, soon, the political drama The Code.

Rob SitchTom 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 YouAudrey'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 ZwarAmanda Brotchie and Nicole Minchin, whose credits include This Is Littleton and a US version of Lowdown.

* Jungleboys

Jason BurrowsPhil 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.

* Gristmill

Robyn Butler and Wayne Hope, whose credits include Upper Middle Bogan.

* Giant Dwarf

The Chaser's team, including Julian MorrowCraig ReucasselChris TaylorAndrew HansenDominic 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 HowzatPower 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.

The artisans

Peter Andrikidis, director

Pioneer who brought film-standard direction to the small screen; credits include Fat Tony & CoJanet King and Serangoon Road.

Kevin Carlin, director

Craftsman and the go-to man for a TV series pilot; credits include WentworthWinners & Losers and Killing Time.

Daina Reid, director

Guiding hand behind a suite of pop and power "event" dramas; credits include Paper GiantsHowzat and INXS: Never Tear Us Apart.

Andrew Knight, writer

Master screenwriter; credits include SeaChangeRakeThe Broken ShoreJack Irish and The Kettering Incident.

Michael Rymer, director

The Hollywood kid; credits include American Horror StoryBattlestar GalacticaHannibal and Deadline Gallipoli.

Cate Shortland, writer/director

The expert in human emotion; credits include The SlapDevil’s PlaygroundDeadline 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.


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