TVNZ CEO Rick Ellis Resigns From New Zealand's National Broadcaster

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Ellis will join Australia's Telstra Corp. as group managing director of its new digital media division which includes its interest in pay TV giant, Foxtel.

TVNZ CEO Rick Ellis is to leave New Zealand’s national broadcaster to take up a new posting as group managing director of Aussie telco Telstra’s a newly-created digital media division of in January, Telstra CEO David Thodey announced Friday.

Telstra will consolidate its suite of media businesses into a single division –Telstra Digital Media under Ellis, who will be responsible for oversight of the various digital media brands including print and online directories Sensis, internet business BigPond, online classifieds arm Trading Post, Telstra’s  PTV business, Telstra's 50 percent stake in pay TV giant Foxtel and other content arrangements.

According to Thodey, the merger will enable the company to drive new opportunities and better utilize its existing media assets.

Ellis will report directly to Thodey, with current Sensis CEO Bruce Akhurst and JB Rousselot, the head of Media, reporting to Ellis.

“I am delighted that Rick Ellis, a media executive with vast experience and strong networks, will be leading our media strategy. Rick has led a complex media organisation, established digital businesses and cultivated strong relationships with content generators, integrators and distributors around the world,” Thodey said.

Thodey also announced that Telstra will invest $100 million over four years to upgrade its media infrastructure. The investment will “help bring to life Telstra’s digital home, and enable Telstra’s enterprise and business customers to more efficiently deliver broadcast-quality video streaming services to end-users over any device connected to the internet,” he said.

Thodey said Telstra’s digital media assets – including Foxtel – are responsible for $4 billion in annual revenue and employ some 4,000 people.

“As digital media and video content continues to grow it is important that we build network infrastructure to meet this demand,” he said. “We will also continue to integrate this content, making it available to our customers across multiple channels including mobiles, tablets, home entertainment systems and the internet.”

Thodey added that the digital media unit would bring Telstra’s media assets together in an effort to achieve scale and capability; however, he stressed that Telstra would not “suddenly be going into content creation.”

“We distribute content and render it across multiple devices and screen-types – that’s what we’re about – and we just need to create this unique experience… for the user, and that’s our natural position,” he said.

TVNZ chairman Sir John Anderson acknowledged Ellis's cumulative 10 years of service as TVNZ CEO, during which time TV ONE and TV2 consolidated their leadership position in the New Zealand free-to-air television market, and the company diversified into digital media areas including on-line, pay TV channels, and new digital free-to-air channels.

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