The new Foxtel Chief has a busy few weeks ahead as it awaits Austar bid approval from the ACCC. News Limited management shake up, announced yesterday, sees John Hartigan, CEO, resigning with Foxtel Chief Kim Williams taking the reins as head of the media giant. Foxtel announced Mr Richard Freudenstein will replace Williams as new Foxtel CEO and Managing Director.
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Freudenstein was formerly Chief of News Digital Media and The Australian.
And he is no stanger to pay TV industry – he spent six years as Chief Operating Officer at British Sky Broadcasting (BSkyB), partly owned by News Corp, and was involved in negotiating major Premiership soccer and Hollywood movie rights, led the launch of Sky+, BSkyB’s High Definition services.
He also worked at Foxtel in the 1990’s.
Which is just as well, as Freudenstein will be responsible for steering Foxtel’s $2.2bn bid for regional Pay TV operator Austar to success, which is awaiting final approval from Australian Consumer and Competition Commission.
The decision is due on November 30.
And if approved, the merger will be enormous task but could give Foxtel, partly owned by Telstra, the boost it needs as free digital TV grows.
Latest Foxtel earnings showed before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation grew by 15.5% to $551m while profit before tax was up 26% to just over $200m.
Its subscriber base increased by 2.5% although Williams acknowledged subscription TV environment was an increasingly difficult one to be in, with advent of Freeview and internet TV.
Freudenstein joined News Digital Media five years ago and has helped create Australia’s largest portfolio of digital media operations, the Foxtel statement said yesterday. He was also previously chairman of the British Royal Television Society.
“I am absolutely delighted to have been asked by Rupert Murdoch to take over as CEO of FOXTEL and to step into the extremely big shoes of Kim Williams”, Mr Freudenstein said.
“Since I worked at Foxtel in the 1990s it has continued to invest and innovate, transforming itself from a company that offered 19 analogue channels over cable to one that offers its customers over 200 digital channels across multiple platforms.”
He also paid tribute to his predecessor.
“Kim has been a catalyst for change for the sector and Australian consumers. Kim has been central in fixing the dysfunctional industry structure in 2002 and putting it ona sustainable footing, launching FOXTEL Digital, FOXTEL iQ, FOXTEL iQHD,
FOXTEL over mobiles and FOXTEL over IP via agreements with Microsoft and Telstra.”