Australia's Nine Network Appoints Industry Veteran Hugh Marks As CEO

Hugh Marks H 2015

David Gyngell steps aside as CEO and managing director after eight years but will remain on the board.

David Gyngell, CEO and managing director of Australia’s number two television network, the Nine Network and its parent company Nine Entertainment Co, has resigned after eight years at the helm of the broadcaster.

He will be replaced by production and broadcast industry veteran and fellow Nine director, Hugh Marks, a media lawyer who was at one time CEO of production outfit Southern Star (now part of Endemol shine) as well as a former member of broadcast regulator the Australian Communication and Media Authority (ACMA). Marks is also the owner of RGM Artists, the local talent agency that includes Cate Blanchett on its books.

The changeover is effective Nov. 10, although it had been rumored for several weeks that Gyngell was set to step aside. Gyngell will remain a non executive director of NEC.

In a statement, Nine chairman David Haslingden said he was “sad” to see Gyngell depart and described Marks as an “obvious replacement.”

Gyngell added that the time was right for his move. “I have great regard for Hugh Marks. He’s got the experience, he’s got skin in the game, he knows the industry so well and he’s very well regarded. For my part, it’s time."

Marks added that it was "honor" to get the opportunity to lead Nine, saying he was hoping to drive the company's premium local content.

Gyngell’s time at the helm of the network was marked by negotiating the most expensive output deal in Australian television history when Nine signed a $500 million pact with Warner Bros in 2009. Earlier this year, Gyngell unwound the Warners deal in favor of increased investments in local content prompted by increased competition from streaming services like Netflix and Stan, the latter of which is 50 percent owned by Nine.

In between Gyngell oversaw an increase in ratings and revenue for Nine, took the network from near bankruptcy to an IPO in 2013, and became tabloid fodder in 2014 following a street brawl in Bondi, Sydney with his childhood friend and director of Ratpac Entertainment, James packer.

Gyngell is the son of Bruce Gyngell, famously the first person to appear on TV in Australia over 55 years ago and the man credited with bringing breakfast television to the U.K. in the 1980s.  

Nine, at its annual upfront presentation last month, announced that it will launch a new digital lifestyle channel in 2016, featuring shows like The Bachelor USA, the Real Housewives franchise, Flipping Out, Top Chef and Million Dollar Listing. Nine will also stream its broadcast channels live in 2016.