2016: Women Behind TV

Which women have risen to the top of their game in an industry dominated by male execs?

Sue Masters1

Six years ago TV Tonight filed a list of Women Behind TV, followed by another three years later.

Once again TV networks have compiled a list of the women who have risen in their ranks in an industry that has traditionally been dominated by male executives.

The list includes females at the top of their game in Management, Programming, Content and more.

Channel Manager Tanya Denning-Orman holds the most senior role at NITV; Amanda Laing is Managing Director at Nine; Fiona Lang, is Chief Operating Officer at BBC Worldwide Australia & NZ. From May 2nd ABC’s Michelle Guthrie becomes the only female Managing Director at an Australian network.

Sue Masters (pictured) was recently appointed Head of Scripted Content at SBS but has previously held executive roles at ABC and TEN in Drama.

She looks back on the changes she has observed over the years and the role gender does -or doesn’t- play.

How long have you been at SBS? Tell us about your current role and projects?
I started working part time at SBS in 2015 as our beloved colleague Caterina de Nave was gravely ill and I was finishing The Secret River for the ABC. When Caterina passed, I worked with Ian Collie on The Principal and completed 6 episodes of The Family Law with Matchbox Pictures.

Just recently I was appointed Head of Scripted Drama and Comedy and I hope my brain is big enough for the enormous task ahead. We have several vital and distinctive dramas in development, The Family Law series 2 [in development] scripts coming in a mile minute, great programs for new and emerging writers in the works, hilarious comedy in development and all of us – from online, radio, publicity and marketing, NITV, news, current affairs and factual teams work closely together so we can maximise the impact of our programs as multi-platform events for our audiences. The challenges are daunting but it is so very exciting making multicultural drama and comedy. There are so many marvelous stories to tell. I feel like Alice in Wonderland.

You have an extensive background at other networks. What have been some of your highlights?
Brides of Christ was a dream run. I loved creating and producing so many series of G.P. and it was a privilege, we were able to train so many writers, directors and producers with 40 episodes. Seachange was another joy. To be part of Secret Life Of Us at Network Ten was a special experience. Jessica, Tripping Over and Mary Bryant were other highlights at Ten.

Strangely though, because I’m probably too intensive a chipmunk, I agonise over my responsibilities and the highlights started as lowlifes. When I was appointed Head of ABC TV Drama, $30 million was taken from my budget. I was worried I was going to send ABC Drama down the gurgler and think I mobilized every brain cell to make it otherwise. Happily, we did have a successful slate with Something in the Air, Changi, Grass Roots, Love is a Four Letter Word and many others.

Similarly, producing co-productions with many partners is wonderful as we’re able to put so much extra money on the screen but with so many colleagues in the UK and the US – it can be a long and stressful experience. A male friend described it as the closest a man ever comes to experiencing childbirth.

“When I look around the open plan offices here and see the beautiful rich diversity of cultures, sizes, shapes, ages – I feel very proud”

How did you begin in the industry? Do you remember any moments where gender worked for or against you back then?
It was a university tutor who told me about a research job at ABC Radio in the university holidays. I was waitressing and earning $1.98 an hour. He encouraged me to apply and I was accepted. However, a month in the producer was forced to step down for health reasons and as I was the only other team member, I got the job. From there I received a scholarship as a Specialist Trainee to the BBC. I was only twenty and although I never felt pretty enough – the hardened Oxbridge types at the BBC resented the antipodean training they were forced to endure but my naiveté probably forced them to be kinder to me. They said ‘I spoke awfully well for an Australian’.

As I’ve aged, I have little doubt that my appearance, if anything is no advantage – so it’s hard work, experience, enthusiasm and a few scraps of talent that have enabled my survival.

If so, how have things changed since? Do you see a difference?
Yes. I do at SBS. When I look around the open plan offices here and see the beautiful rich diversity of cultures, sizes, shapes, ages – I feel very proud that SBS makes talent the hiring criteria. 51% of the SBS population is female and there is an even split of men and women at Executive level.

My sadness is that because we can only make limited television volume across all networks – we’re not seeing or training enough young professionals as writers, directors and producers. We’re hoping to find more opportunities here – particularly on SBS 2.

Do women fare differently between public broadcasting and commercial TV?
I think growing up with four older brothers prepared me very well for commercial television. There is perhaps more blokyiness at commercial TV but in saying that I had terrific male mentors at Ten.

Is income parity still an issue?
Not in my experience. My boss, SBS Director of TV and Online Content Marshall Heald is very aware of how hard we’re all working and is always trying to find ways to assist in whatever way he can that acknowledges our commitment and value.

“When a man loses his job and his mates rally around…when a woman loses her job – the same doesn’t apply”

What do women do better than blokes?
To our detriment, I think we are more intuitive to emotional atmosphere, listening to others, anticipating needs and I’ve often found women have more emotional intelligence than men.

Where is there still room for improvement in gender equity?
We need wore women in key creative positions most particularly as directors, Board Members, Senior Executives.

Any final comments?
I’ve always been a bit surprised when a man loses his job and his mates rally around and make all the necessary phone calls and use their contacts to get him another position. However, when a woman loses her job – the same doesn’t apply. Maybe, we are still not well enough placed or networked.

Here are the names supplied by networks / channels asked to list women in senior roles. Does not include Board Members. Does not include production companies.


Rebecca Heap – Head of Audience & Digital
Gabrielle Cambridge – Head, TV Business
Sally Riley – Head, Indigenous
Mandy Chang – Head, Arts
Amber Tomlinson – Channel Manager, ABC
Edwina Waddy – Channel Manager, ABC2
Sally O’Donoghue – Manager, iview
Leisa Bacon – Director, Audience and Marketing
Jo Mullaley – Head, TV Marketing
Alicia Olson-Keating – Head, Audience Insights
Di Costantini – Head, Creative Services


Therese Hegarty, Director of Content and Rights
Julie McGauran, Head of Drama
Sonya Wilkes, Head of Program Development
Lyndal Marks, Head of Factual Programming
Jenny Hosie, Integrated Sales Director
Sarah Stinson, Executive Producer – The Morning Show
Bridget Fair, Group Chief – Corporate and Regulatory Affairs
Melanie Allibon, Group Executive – Human Resources
Ana Bacic, Head of Marketing
Susan Wood, Head of Publicity
Holly Knill, Director of Digital Product and Audience
Rowena Millward, Director, Client Partnerships
Nikki Rooke, Sydney Sales Director
Lisa Squillace, Sponsorship and Digital Channels Sales Director
Diane Ho, Sydney Sales Manager
Natalie Harvey, Brisbane Sales Director
Katie Finney, Melbourne Sales Manager
Davanh Inthachanh, General Manager Human Resources – Television
Rita Agati, General Manager Human Resources – Capability and Leadership
Megan Williams, Head of Tax
Monica Vagg, General Manager Human Resources – Remuneration & Systems
Rebecca Barnett, Legal Counsel
Renee Quirk, Commercial Manager & Legal Counsel, Sport
Justine McCarthy, Legal Counsel
Jane Oswald, Legal Counsel, Productions
Alicia McQuilty, Head of Strategic Development & Planning
Louise Bowes – Network Script Executive
Lucy Addario – Series Producer H&A
Liz Rennie – Music Manager
Suzy Hounslow – Production Executive
Deb Spinocchia – Executive Producer
Niki Hamilton – Executive Producer – Children’s Programming
Kate Green – Licensing Manager
Jenny Fogarty – Production Supervisor


Amanda Laing – Managing Director NEC
Rachel Launders – NEC General Counsel and Company Secretary
Maureen O’Connor – Corporate Counsel
Kiah Officer – Corporate Counsel
Kim Kevans – Commercial Director Programming and Production
Jo Rooney – co-Head of Drama
Lizzie Young – Director of Content & Brand Integration
Jean Jenkins – Director of Marketing
Kylie Blucher – General Manage QTQ and NBN
Victoria Buchan – Director of Public Relations and Communications
Kerri Elstub – Supervising Producer, A Current Affair
Kirsty Thomson – EP, 60 Minutes
Natasha Daran – EP, Today Extra
Mary Davison – Editorial Manager, Nine News
Neradine Tisaj – Head of Trade and Digital Communications
Josie MacRae – Deputy News Director
Jacqui Lumb – EP Wide World of Sports
Lisa McMillan – Head of Promotions
Sarah Cunningham – Network Design Supervisor
Michelle Stamper – Head of Publicity and Marketing GTV
Penny Wieland – Programming Executive
Rebecca Lawrie – Brisbane Sales Director QTQ
Kate Donnison – Chief Of Staff Nine News Brisbane
Kellie Hampton – Head of Programming & Publicity NBN
Amanda Paterson – Brisbane Bureau Chief – A Current Affair
Emma Chamberlain – Managing Editor ninemsn
Niamh Collins – General Manager – Product and Digital Operations
Danielle Pinkus – Editor ninemsn Homes
Naomi Smith – Editor ninemsn Honey
Amy Nelmes – Editor ninemsn Elsewhere
Liana Dubois – Sydney Sales Director
Kate McMahon – Perth Sales Director
Leanne Mercer – EP Postcards
Kate McGrath – Chief of Staff Nine News Melbourne
Jo Neil – Production Manager The AFL Footy Show


A report released by the Male Champions of Change in early March this year showed that 50% of TEN Network’s key management personnel are female and 50% of senior managers are female.

Beverley McGarvey, Chief Programming Officer
Louise Barrett, Executive General Manager, Sydney
Annabelle Herd, Director of Corporate and Regulatory Affairs
Felicity Conlan, General Manager, Finance
Liz Baldwin, General Manager, Digital
Toni Skaife, Head of Production and Business Affairs
Cherrie Bottger, Head of Children’s TV
Azar Marashian, Head of Acquisitions
Monica Forlano, Head of Multichannels
Catherine Donovan, Head of Publicity
Katherine Sawers, Head of Research
Claire Tonkin, Network Drama Executive
Hilary Innes, Executive Producer
Maria Michael, Executive Producer
Karen Song, Network Art Director
Jane Henschke, News Manager, Brisbane
Fiona Clark, News Manager, Adelaide
Pamela Magill, News Manager, Perth
Lauren Meyer, Program Marketing Manager
Andreana Walton, Program Marketing Manager
Sally Stockbridge, Network Classification Manager
Angela Neville, Brisbane Commercial Manager
Jessica Maxwell, National Commercial Manager
Pippa Jackson, Head of Editorial, Digital
Manda Hatter, Network Project Manager
Melanie Kleyn, Head of Commercial Finance
Janelle So, Head of Financial Reporting
Rachel Day, HR/OD Manager
Michelle Caredes, Senior Corporate Counsel
Alison Kerr, Senior Legal Counsel
Tasha Smithies, Senior Litigation Counsel


Helen Kellie – Chief Content Officer; Content, TV & Online
Tureia Sample – Director of Corp affairs
Lesley Power – General Counsel
Amanda McGregor – Director of Marketing
Sarah Grant – Director of People & Culture
Jessica Harris – Head of Group Communications
Jo McAlister – Head of Group Marketing
Izzy Kerr – Head of Audience Strategy & Insights, Content TV & Online
Jane Palfreyman – National Brand Partnerships Manager
Sue Masters – Head of Scripted Content Drama and Comedy
Bernadine Lim – Executive Producer – Dateline
Sally Roberts – SBS Executive Editor, Intake NACA
Lesley Crawford – Network Stylist
Jo’an Papadopoulos – Head of Publicity
Katie Morgan – Communications Manager
Sarah Vahtola – Social Media and Corporate and Social Responsibility Manager
Ashleigh Lane – Art Director
Mandi Wicks – SBS Director, Audio Language & Content


Tanya Denning – Orman – NITV Channel Manager
Catherine Liddle – NITV Executive Editor, Intake NACA
Mary-Ellen Mullane – NITV Senior Commissioning Editor
Jade Christian – NITV Commissioning Editor


Foxtel TV Division
Rhonda Dawson, Director of Content Communications
Josie Mason-Campbell, Head of Production & Development
Penny Win, Head of Drama
Carly Heaton, Drama Development Executive
Hannah Barnes, General Manager – LifeStyle Channels
Sarah Kenny, Head of Programming – LifeStyle Channels
Brigitte Slattery, Head of Marketing – LifeStyle Channels
Kate Lalak, General Manager – General Entertainment
Gina McGrath, Head of Marketing – GE Channels
Heather Campbell, Head of Programming – Premium Entertainment
Connie Lim, Marketing Manager – Premium Entertainment
Mariska Deane, Head of Programming – Factual Channels
Rebecca Batties, General Manager – Music Channels
Colleen Meldrum, General Manager – Movies
Tahnee Hunter, Creative Director – Movies
Fleur Fahey, General Manager – Acquisitions
Rachel Thorley, Head of Content
Kate Cranna, Research Communications Manager – Foxtel Channels

Foxtel Executive & wider business
Emma Hogan, Executive Director – Customer Experience Group
Simone Shugg, Executive Director – People and Culture
Fiona Adamson, Director – Customer Contact
Emma Harrington, Director – Wholesale & Distribution
Cait Hayes, Director – P&C Operations
Nell Payne, Group Director – Technology & Operations
Sam Hall, Director of Aggregate Content Rights & Negotiation
Leah O’Gorman, Head of Sports Partnerships
Megan Thomas, Director – Internal Communications & Events
Chantal Walker, Director of Sports Marketing
Lynette Ireland, Chief General Counsel – Legal
Miranda Duigan, Principal Legal Counsel
Sophie Jackson, Principal Legal Counsel
Lisa Hill, Principal Legal Counsel
Miranda Stojanovski, Head of Drama & Movie Marketing
Sasha Mackie, Head of Content Marketing


Fiona Lang, COO
Irene Read, Director of TV Sales
Linda Deubel, Director of Brands and Marketing
Laura Dumbrell, Head of Communications
Naomi Mourra, Head of HR
Helen Pendlebury, Head of Business Development
Katrina Norton-Knight, Head of Brand Partnerships & Channels Advertising
Sharon Wilson, Head of Marketing, Factual and Childrens Brands
Sophia Spinelli, Head of Marketing, Entertainment Brands
Roberta Allan, Head of Programming, Australia
Louisa Bayles, Head of Digital & DVD Sales

Turner Broadcasting:

Robi Stanton: Vice President & General Manager – Australia, New Zealand and Pacific Territories
Christie Scandura: Licensing Manager, Cartoon Network Enterprises – Australia and New Zealand
Josine van der Knoop: Marketing & PR Manager, Australia, New Zealand and Pacific Territories
Melissa Fitzgerald: National Sales Director, Australia and New Zealand
Alex Trippas: Associate Director, Networks & Content Distribution, Australia, New Zealand and Pacific Territories

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