Tonagh out, Delany in at Foxtel

Patrick Delany.

Fox Sports Australia CEO Patrick Delany was today named as CEO of Foxtel, succeeding Peter Tonagh who stepped down after nearly two years in the post.

The move was not unexpected given media speculation over who would take the helm of Foxtel after the merger with Fox Sports is completed later this year.

News Corp said Fox Sports will be run by chief operating officer Peter Campbell in the interim.

The head of Fox Sports since 2011, Delany was a natural choice given his previous roles at Foxtel as director of digital and executive director of content, product and delivery.

Despite the relaunch and rebranding of Foxtel Play as Foxtel Now, during Tonagh’s reign the pay TV platform has lost subscribers and has seen revenues and profits plunge in the fight with Netflix, Stan and Fetch.

To cut costs Foxtel has been shedding channels including LifeStyle You and SBS’s World Movies, which goes dark after today, while FX, Nat Geo People and Eurosport News cease at the end of February.

Anent FX, the company has advised subscribers, “The shows you enjoy will still be on Foxtel and will move to a new channel. Details will be released next week.”

Foxtel last reported it had more than 2.8 million subscribers, trailing Netflix which is believed to have around 3 million.

A former CEO and COO of News Corp Australia, Tonagh succeeded Richard Freudenstein at Foxtel.

Screen producers will be hoping the change in CEO will not lead to any reduction in Foxtel’s substantial commitment to Australian drama after such commissions as FremantleMedia Australia’s Picnic at Hanging Rock and Wentworth and Goalpost Pictures’ Fighting Season.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has cleared the merger, which will see News Corp own 65 per cent of the enlarged company and Telstra hold 35 per cent.

News Corp CEO Robert Thomson said, “Patrick’s astute and innovative leadership of Fox Sports, combined with his broad experience during his nine years at Foxtel, make him the ideal person to take the helm at such a profoundly important moment for Foxtel.”

Thomson paid tribute to Tonagh as a thoughtful, far-sighted leader whose positive influence at Foxtel would resonate for years.

The ever-gracious Tonagh said: “With the process of bringing Foxtel and Fox Sports together proceeding towards a conclusion soon, it is the right time for me to move on and put Foxtel into the hands of the person who will lead the new company. I have known Patrick from his years at Foxtel and Fox Sports and he is the right person to be at the helm in this new era.

“I am proud of what Foxtel has achieved in recent years. We have dramatically lifted the quality and quantity of Foxtel’s programming while making it more available and affordable for millions of Australians.”

Delany said, “Peter leaves a great foundation at Foxtel. It has extraordinary assets, great people and a deep subscriber base. I’m excited by opportunities at both Foxtel and Fox Sports to give consumers something better, different and special.”