On the eve of the Foxtel-Fox Sports merger, Peter Tonagh feels 'the time is right' to move on, paving the way for Patrick Delany's succession.

By Joe McDonough

Posted on January 31, 2018

Fox Sports Australia chief executive Patrick Delany has been appointed CEO of Foxtel.

Delany will replace Peter Tonagh, who has been at the helm for almost two years, and has been influential in bringing the Foxtel and Fox Sports merger to the cusp of completion.

Under the new company’s ownership, News Corp will hold 65% and Telstra 35%, and position it for a sharemarket float.

It is unclear why Tonagh has opted to stand down at this time, with the former News Corp Australia CEO only saying “it is the right time”.

“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,” he said.

“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.”

An opinion piece written this week by the Sydney Morning Herald’s John McDuling, predicted that either Delany or Tonagh would fall victim to cost savings as a result of the impending merger.

Fox Sports Australia chief operating officer, Peter Campbell, will fill Delany’s boots until the final leadership structure of the new company is finalised.

Incoming CEO

Delany has been in the entertainment business for two decades, and among his numerous achievements after joining Foxtel in 2002, was the renegotiation of Foxtel’s long-standing movie deals — a crucial result for Foxtel’s future profitability.

In 2011, he became CEO of Fox Sports Australia and made live sport coverage his priority. There is now 10,000 hours of live action every year, including every game of NRL, AFL, Super Rugby, A League Football, F1 and Supercars.

He has increased audience, profitability, expanded the digital footprint and overseen the introduction of new technologies and approaches, including in-play cricket helmet cameras in 2012 and user generated content into live broadcasts.

“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,” Delany said.

“Bringing sports and entertainment to the people of Australia has been the passion of my professional life.”

Outgoing CEO

Tonagh’s peers have been gushing in their praise of the well-known executive, who has also held the CFO and COO titles at Foxtel, and CEO position at News Corp Australia.

News Corp boss Robert Thomson said his vision had set up the companies he led for prosperous futures.

“There is no question that Peter Tonagh has been a thoughtful, far-sighted leader and his positive influence will resonate for many years to come,” said Thomson.

News Corp Australasia Executive Chairman Michael Miller said his contributions “have helped the companies grow during a time of digital disruption, and we are grateful for his many contributions over the years as News Corp Australia’s Chief Executive Officer and Chief Operating Officer and as interim CEO of the REA Group”.