Women behind Television

Courtney GibsonIt’s been nearly 3 years since TV Tonight last did a stocktake of the Women behind Television.

Last time the list of female executives was compiled I profiled TEN’s then Head of Programming, Beverley McGarvey. Now she is Chief Programming Officer.

This time the list has expanded with more input from Pay TV channels.

But what’s it take to rise amongst the ranks, and do we place too much importance on gender?

Courtney Gibson (pictured), Programming Production Executive at Nine, has been with the network for a year in July but was formerly at Southern Star, the ABC and SBS. During this time she has been responsible for such shows as Spicks and Specks, The New Inventors, Strictly Dancing, Undercover Boss, Beauty and the Geek and comedies by The Chaser and Chris Lilley.

Currently the executive in charge of production on The Great Australian Bake Off and network executive on Australia’s Got Talent,  Gibson isn’t sure that it’s harder for women to rise to executive roles than men, but notes there are certainly fewer women at the top of the commissioning tree.

“Our public broadcasters have had some very female-centric senior teams in the past, but I believe they currently have more men in senior roles than in recent times. But look over at TEN, there’s Beverley McGarvey in the chair, and there are female CEOs at some of our medium and bigger production companies,” she says.

“What I do think is hard as a woman in Australian TV is doing everything at work as well as you’d like to, while not neglecting your family. Women have to make much harder decisions than men on that front: When has a man ever had to decide on children vs career? Or had to think about when and how to have children, and how much parental leave to take, in order to maintain some kind of career path or working continuum? Not often, I’d venture.

“I’ve worked with all-female management teams and it’s just as limiting as being in a team where the vast majority are men. Deciding what to commission is a discursive process and a diversity of perspectives help drive those discussions. If everyone brings the same baggage or background to the table, it’s not helpful.”

So do women bring something to the table men don’t?

“I remember when I was at the ABC, coming up with the idea to do the founding of Cleo as a drama, and asking John Edwards in my first meeting with him as Head of Content if he thought it was interesting. He almost lost his lunch he so latched onto it. I had a lingering memory of the time a copy of the first edition found its way into our house when I was a child; there were vigorous discussions about it between my dad and mum, and the magazine had such an impact on her, on all the Australian women of that era. Later, as a copygirl and cadet journo I’d admired Ita Buttrose enormously.

“Is it because I’m a woman that these ideas stayed with me and I thought they were the basis of a great drama? Maybe. I dare say if I was a boy I’d have been reading Mad Magazine and my dad’s copies of The Ring rather than making incursions into the sealed section in mum’s Cleo magazine!”

Gibson also puts to rest long-held views that the Nine Network is something of a “boys club.”

“I love it at Nine; I love the unrelenting focus on shows and audiences – it’s clear, it’s pure and it’s very un-political. I never feel marginalised at Nine because I’m a woman. I don’t even feel like a-woman-in-a-man’s-world, or a woman who’s being treated-like-one-of-the-boys. Nine’s been the most warm and welcoming place to me. I don’t doubt that it wasn’t always like this, but the current regime promotes a really healthy culture and a genuine valuing of the different views in the room.”

Both of Gibson’s projects at Nine will air in the second half of the year, with Bake-Off‘s delayed launch finally imminent and Australia’s Got Talent now filming audition episodes.

“Day One on the set of Australia’s Got Talent was thrilling, when judges Dawn, Geri, Tim and Kyle got together and it was on like Donkey Kong. With an on-air team made up of strangers from different parts of the world, you don’t know what the chemistry between them will be like till everyone’s at the desk, in the room, and it’s the greatest feeling when they all gel and are all so powerful and it cranks right up from the start. It’s the best feeling.

“It’s been the same with hosts Anna and Shane, and judges Kerry and Dan on The Great Australian Bake Off – dynamic partnerships are so often what great TV is about.”

Here are the names of female executives as supplied by networks to TV Tonight (does not include production companies):

Kate Torney – Head of News and Current Affairs ABC TV
Sally Neighbour – 7.30 EP
Deborah Fleming – Australian Story co-creator and EP
Carole Sklan – Head of Drama
Amber Tomlinson– Deputy Controller ABC2
Natalie Edgar – Dep Cont ABC1 ABC1
Greer Simpkin – Dep Head of Drama
Sally Riley – Head of ABC TV Indigenous
Katrina Sedgwick– Head of Arts
Genevieve Hussey – QLD News Editor
Sue Spencer – EP Four Corners
Amanda Collinge – Series Producer Q&A
Sophia Zachariou – Executive Producer for The Checkout, Gruen Planet, The Hamster Wheel.
Lynne Shaw -Events
Diana Costantini – Head of Marketing and Communications
Jennifer Collins – Head of Entertainment.

Julie McGauran – Head of Drama
Susan Wood – National Head of Publicity
Sarah Stinson, Executive Producer, The Morning Show
Therese Hegarty – Head of Production & Rights Management
Melanie Allibon – Group Human Resources Director
Ana Bacic – National Marketing Manager
Bridget Fair – Group Chief, Corporate and Regulatory Affairs, Seven West Media
Wendy Kornelson – Research & Insights manager
Jenny Hosie – Integrated Sales Director, SMG
MaryAnne Carroll – Executive producer, Comedy
Renee Quirk – Commercial manager, Sport & Investments
Susan Davis – Director of Sales, Brisbane
Kristin Carlos – Head of TV, Yahoo!7
Sue Carter – Head of News, Sport & Information, Yahoo!7

Courtney Gibson – Program Production Executive (Executive Producer, The Great Australian Bake-Off & Australia’s Got Talent)
Karen Dewey – Head of Factual and Reality
Jo Rooney – Network Drama Executive
Louisa Hatfield – Executive Producer Mornings
Lesley Moy – Executive Producer Australia’s Funniest Home Videos
Jacqui Lumb – Executive Producer Wide World of Sport
Vic Buchan – Director of Communications and Public Relations
Jean Jenkins – Director of Marketing
Penny Wieland – Programming Executive
Kiah Officer – Corporate Counsel
Amanda Laing – General Council, Nine Entertainment Co
Kim Kevans – Corporate Council, Nine Network
Mary Davidson – Editorial Manager, Nine News
Lisa McMillan – Head of Promotions (on-air promos)
Sarah Cunningham – Network Design Supervisor (graphics)
Lizzie Young – Director Content & Brand Integration, Sales
Maureen O’Connor – Corporate Counsel
Cailah Scobie – Corporate Counsel
Amity StClair – Corporate Counsel
Leanne Mercer – Executive Producer, Postcards
Kate McGrath – Chief of Staff, Nine News
Michelle Stamper – Head of Publicity and Marketing GTV
Michelle Wyatt – co EP TV Week Logie Awards
Kylie Blucher – Managing Director QTQ
Anne Tunnecliffe – Head of Programming, Publicity & Marketing QTQ
Kelly Clappis -Executive Producer, Nine News Adelaide
Angela Nutton – Marketing Communications & Publicity Manager WIN/WA
Deborah Wright – CEO NBN
Kerri Elstub – Sydney Bureau Chief – A Current Affair
Amanda Paterson – Brisbane Bureau Chief – A Current Affair.

Beverley McGarvey – Chief Programing Officer
Lisa Fitzpatrick – Director of Development and Production
Rebekah Horne – Chief Digital Officer
Catherine Donovan – Head of Publicity
Cherrie Bottger – Head of Children’s TV
Louise Barrett – National Sales Director
Peta Webster – Melbourne Sales Manager
Annabelle Herd – Head of Broadcast Policy
Page Henty – General Counsel
Melanie Kleyn – Group Business Manager – Program Finance
Toni Skaife – Head of Production and Business Affairs
Angela Murphy – Director of News, Brisbane
Angela Neville – General Sales Manager, Queensland
Maria Michael – Executive Producer, Entertainment
Karen Warner – Executive Producer
Olivia Grimshaw – On-Air Services Manager
Azar Marashian – Development and Acquisition Manager
Monica Forlano – Head of Program Scheduling
Anne Bottomley – Network Schedule Manager
Manda Hatter – Operational Systems Development Manager
Diane Tremain – Head of Integration, Strategy and Sponsorship
Katherine Sawers – Head of Research
Kelly Schaffer – Network Marketing Manager
Nerissa Chew – Brisbane Finance Manager
Elise O’Neil – Corporate Communications Manager
Paula Lucarelli – Melbourne Publicity Manager
Carolyn Berry – Brisbane Publicity Manager
Kirsty Wilson – Sydney Publicity Manager
Sharon Burgess – Finance Manager (Melbourne and Adelaide)
Claire Tonkin – Drama Executive
Vanessa Arthur – National News Editor
Vanessa Arden-Wood – Head of Entertainment (Digital)
Janelle So – Group Finance and Reporting Manager
Rachel Day – Network HR Development Manager
Alison Kerr – Network Legal Counsel
Rachel Beaney – Social Network and Community Manager

Helen Kellie – Director of Marketing
Lesley Power – General Counsel
Jessica Harris – Corporate Communications Manager
Sally Begbie – SBS Ombudsman
Caterina de Nave – Commissioning Editor, Entertainment, Comedy and Drama
Katherine Raskob – Group Marketing Manager
Katie Holyman – Head of Publicity
Lesley Crawford – Network Stylist
Fiona Baker – Commissioning Editor
Karla Grant – Executive Producer and host of Living Black
Izzy Kerr – Manager, Strategy and Insights
Ashleigh Lane – Art Director
Linda-Jane Grace – Head of Promos
Mandi Wicks – Director of Audio & Language Content
Tanya Denning – Channel Manager NITV
Jane Palfreyman – National Manager, Client Solutions, Advertising Sales

Tanya Denning Channel Manager
Susan Moylan Coombes Head of Production

Penny Win, Foxtel Commissioning Editor of Drama, SoHo Channel Manager
Josie Mason-Campbell, Managing Executive Producer
Fleur Fahey, Foxtel Head of Acquisitions
Emma Hogan Director People & Culture
Shona Bishop Executive Director Customer Service and Installations
Lynette Ireland Chief General Counsel
Nell Payne Director Broadcast Technology
Robyn Elliott Chief Information Officer
Rebecca Heap Director, Content & Partnerships
Jacqui Feeney Director, Foxtel Movies
Chantal Walker Director, Marketing
Tracey O’Hanlon Head of Facilities and Services
Kelly Hawkins Head of Communications & Knowledge Management
Jacqueline Clarke Head of Customer Services
Fiona Adamson Head of Subscriber Sales and Retention
Nicole Issaakidis Head of Organisational Development
Nicole Curran Head of Internal Communications
Aylene Rhodes Head of Operations
Effie Tsitsis Head of Wholesale Relationships
Elspeth Cronin Head of eExperience
Sasha Mackie, Foxtel Head of Content Marketing
Rhonda Dawson, Foxtel General Manager Communications – Platform, Programming & Events
Susan Panelli, Foxtel Head of Product Delivery
Sam Hall, Foxtel Head of Commercial and Partner Management
Kym Niblock, Foxtel General Manager of Emerging Platforms

Shirley Brown – Group Business Director
Cath Burrows – WIN Network Human Resources Manager
Cathy Fitzsimmons – Manager Central West not Orange/Dubbo Station Manager
Kim Semmler – Albury Station Manager
Debra Murray – Cairns Station Manager
Liz Illedge – General Manager WIN NBN Sales Brisbane
Lili Pappas – Manager/Media Manager Wollongong
Sharon Pike – Manager/Media Manager Ballarat
Natalie Regal – Payroll Manager
Rachael Dimitrievski – WIN Properties Manager
Kim Newman – Management & Systems Accounts Manager
Stella Lauri – NSW News Director
Emily Wheeler – Wollongong Chief of Staff
Pam Kokoras – Bendigo Chief of Staff
Brooke Van Nooten – Gippsland Chief of Staff
Alison Ribbon – Hobart Chief of Staff
Ellie Sibson – Rockhampton Chief of Staff
Karen Broadhurst – Bundaberg and Maryborough Chief of Staff
Sarah Greenhalgh – Acting Cairns Chief of Staff

Leisa Sadler – GM , Branded Media Content
Louise Benham – Programming and Production Director.
Emma Lane – Senior Manager, Research and Consumer Insights.
Katie Cordes – Senior Manager, Advertising Integration and Promos
Sharon Davies – Senior Manager, Promotions.
Cara Leggett – Director Corporate Communications
Lee-Ann Googan – Director of Marketing, Disney Channels Australia & New Zealand

Anna MacDonald: Director of Commercial Partnerships
Kristie Phelan: Network Creative Director & Head of Production
Kate Watson: Director of Marketing and Communications
Kirsty Bloore: Research Director
Bree Davies: Digital Media Manager
Jacqui Caruana: Events Manager
Claire O’Connor: Consumer Products Director

Victoria Forrest, Channel Manager SKY NEWS Weather
Jana Bellamy, Channel Manager A-PAC
Talia Greet, Director of Production and Operations
Brihony Speed: Executive Producer Canberra

Katrina Southon: Managing Director
Rebecca Batties: General Manager, Music Brands + Comedy
Kirsty Bloore: Research Director
Michelle Lucia: Marketing Manager
Milly Gattegno: Publicity & Communications Manager
Paola Cracknell: Talent Manager

Laura Glassman: Head of Programming, SBS Subscription TV – STUDIO and World Movies
Margaret Murphy: Head of Arts and Production, SBS Subscription TV – STUDIO and World Movies
Jo McAlister: Head of Marketing, SBS Subscription TV – STUDIO and World Movies

Ros Jones, Channel Director, Australia
Tammy Stone, Director, Ad Sales
Angelique Ellis, Director, Marketing

Deirdre Brennan – Director of Content
Melissa Madden – Director of Brands and Marketing
Fiona Lang – Head of Business and Legal Affairs
Laura Dumbrell – Head of Communications
Irene Read – Head of TV Sales
Sharon Wilson – Head of Marketing, Brands, Consumers & New Ventures
Linda Deubel – Head of Marketing, Channels and Branded Services
Helen Pendlebury – Head of Commercial, Entertainment and Children’s Brands
Heather McIlfatrick – Head of Commercial, Lifestyle & Factual Brands

Karin Simoncini, Managing Director of Fox International Channels Australia

Carly Loder: Director, Marketing & Communications
Christina Allen: General Counsel
Fiona Cottrell: Director of People and Culture
Donna Reid: Director, Broadcast Services
Rachel Wiseman: Commercial & Strategy Manager, Acquisitions
Belinda Dolman: Head of Client solutions
Catherine White: Financial Controller

Robi Stanton: Vice President and General Manager, Turner International Australia
Melissa Fitzgerald: Ad Sales Director, Turner International Australia
Alex Trippas: Senior Manager Network and Content Distribution, Turner International Australia
Erin Falconer: Senior Marketing Manager, Turner International Australia

Phyllisse Stanton: CEO/Managing Director
Jane Rybarz: Board of Directors – Chair of the Finance Committee
Corrie McDougall: Programming & Production Manager
Louise Lenihan: Marketing & Social Media Manager
Sarah Jane Cook: On Air Scheduler


  1. Think I’ve found why Ten has been in so much trouble lately. Too many chiefs/heads and not enough indians/worker bees.

    Fire everyone with the word ‘Manager” in their title and double the salary of everyone else… specially the tea lady.

  2. Secret Squirrel

    Looks like whoever supplied the list for Ten has a broader definition of ‘executive’ than everyone else as they’ve even mentioned the person who updates their Facebook page. Surprised that they didn’t include the tea lady as Head of Beverage Distribution.

  3. Something has been lost in translation – some channels have included managers by city, when they clearly report to other people on their list (publicity stood out here, Ch 10 has 4 executive publicists? Not to mention the amount of people who would report to them? Sheesh).
    Seven has only included National Managers, where Ch 10 has included every woman that has a higher level of responsibility than coordinator by the looks of it.
    Great article though, David. 🙂

  4. Yeah, I think there’s a bit of spin going on here. Only 7 of the women on TEN’s list actually run departments. The rest just have manager in their title.

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