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Vale: David Leckie

Legendary Australian TV executive, who ran both Seven and Nine networks, has died.

Legendary Australian TV executive David Leckie, who ran both Seven and Nine networks, has died aged 70.

He died at Mulberry Farm, Robertson after a long illness this morning, surrounded by family.

“David was the eldest son of Ron and Joyce (deceased) Leckie, brother of Stuart and Ian Leckie, and uncle to nine nieces and nephews and great uncle to four great-nieces and great- nephews,” family said in a statement.

Leckie was a titan in the Australian television industry, with an executive career spanning 40 years from 1977 to 2017.

He joined GTV-9 as a sales executive, was promoted to National Sales Manager, then Nine Network Sales Director in 1982 at TCN-9. In August 1990, he became Managing Director of the Nine Network and CEO from 1994  to 2001.

He joined Seven Network in 2003 and led it to the #1 position in ratings and revenue with a powerful line-up of news, sport and entertainment content.

In 2012 he was replaced by Tim Worner, but continued as a Director and consultant until 2016.

During his reign at Seven, he saw the network gain glory over Nine, ruling with his robust style outspoken views and colourful language. Leckie always gave many journos plenty of column inches with war stories of meetings, lunches, health issues, exec stoushes, corporate and court battles.

At a 2012 programming launch he took aim at his rivals, saying TEN had “one show, a cooking show” while referring to Nine’s schedule as “the yo-yo show.”

Current CEO James Warburton also consulted with Leckie as recently as 2020.

Seven West Media Chairman, Kerry Stokes AC, said: “I had a close association and friendship with David for more than 20 years and finally enticed him to Seven in 2003, when he started the difficult process in turning around the network’s fortunes.

“David achieved the turnaround quickly and effectively, building a winning team, financial and programming model, which delivered us leadership of the TV industry for many years.

“He had a magnificent grasp of television and what people wanted to enjoy, whether it be news and current affairs or light entertainment programming, and he achieved success in every aspect of his leadership of Seven. He leaves a great legacy and I pass on my sympathies to Skye, Harry, Ben and Tim and the rest of his family, who he loved very much.

“Vale my friend David.”

Seven West Media Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, James Warburton, said: “David was a true legend of the Australian media industry and a loved part of the Seven family. Everyone at Seven will miss him enormously.

“Inspiring, engaging, loud, passionate and famously difficult at times, he was an extraordinary sales person and an intuitive TV programmer. Without a doubt he was the best TV executive this country has ever seen and an important influence and mentor for so many people and careers. He was once labelled the last of the rock star CEOs and I’d say that was a pretty good description.

“David was the reason I got into television and was a great friend. My heartfelt sympathies go to Skye and their boys. There will only ever be one David Leckie. It was a great privilege to have known and worked with him.”

Mike Sneesby, CEO of Nine said, “David Leckie was a giant of television.  He contributed enormously to the success we all shared with him here at Nine, his instincts and leadership heralded the golden era of Australian television.

“He adored his family and so many of us stayed in touch as a friend even after he left.  He set the culture of excellence at Nine that still exists in our DNA today and we thank him for that.  We extend our deepest sympathies to wife Skye and his two sons Harry and Ben Leckie.”

Due to COVID restrictions he will be farewelled at a small, private funeral. The service will be live streamed. A celebration will be held as soon as possible, following the lifting of restrictions.

 

This post updates.

4 Responses

  1. I always felt sorry for him because he was the patsy who had to implement the greedy, so-called “cost-cutting” in the late 1990s which saw the axing of The midday show, Hey hey it’s Saturday, Wide World of Sports, and Sports Sunday among other much loved shows. All done so that Kerry Packer could put even more money into his already bulging wallet. Leckie’s feelings about Packer were made obvious when he walked out on Channel 9 to become CEO of the network’s bitter rival Channel 7.

  2. David Leckie has turned fortunes around since joining Seven in mid 2003. He has a lot of good initiative in the media industry. The Sunrise show challenged Today Show in ratings during 2003 and 04. As well, Seven lured Ian Ross to do the Sydney flagship bulletin and this helped the ratings from a basketcase to a dominant No 1. He always had a great sense of humor and passion in TV. Australia has lost a good man. Goodbye David.

  3. Valé David. The last of the old-school hardline television executives. Indeed, the only man I genuinely feared in my time in tv. He was bloody good at his job. He knew his stuff and made it happen, albeit sometimes with some very colourful language.

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