Sydney, Australia -- As Australian pay television
celebrates its third birthday this month, several new senior-executive appointments are
being made to help usher the industry into its next growth phase.
The country's pay TV operators -- Foxtel, Cable &
Wireless Optus Ltd. (formerly Optus Communications) and Austar -- now boast 800,000
subscribers. That follows consolidation this year that saw the liquidation of pioneer
direct-to-home provider Australis Media and United International Holdings Inc.'s
Austar buying out the flailing Century Communications Corp.-owned East Coast Television
What's more, Britain's Cable and Wireless plc is
now firmly entrenched as the controlling shareholder in Optus, which is set to raise $A1
billion ($US600 million) in an initial public stock offering next month.
Mike Lattin, CEO of Optus' movie supplier, Movie
Vision, has been appointed to head Optus' pay TV business, replacing Don Hagans, who
decided earlier this year not to renew his contract with the company.
Optus' director of multimedia, Chris Weston, was
expected to take control of pay TV under his multimedia portfolio. But Optus'
struggle with subscriber numbers and the market's perception that it has an inferior
product to Foxtel meant that someone with more broadcasting experience was needed to drive
the business forward.
Lattin seems to fit the bill, with about 30 years of
broadcasting experience under his belt. He was a programmer for Network Ten for many years
before moving to TVNZ, New Zealand's public broadcaster, in the early 1990s, where he
worked under current Optus CEO Chris Anderson.
While Optus gets its act together, broadcaster Seven
Network has appointed former Star TV and TVNZ CEO Julian Mounter as its new CEO, following
the resignation of Gary Rice last month.
Mounter -- who has been running his own media-investment
business from the Channel Islands in the United Kingdom -- will oversee the network's
transition to digital broadcasting and its new plans for pay TV, and he will aim to
increase its market share in ad revenue and ratings.
Seven has established a new business unit, Seven Cable,
through which it will own and operate pay TV channels for Australia.
The first is Seven Sports, which will replace the recently
closed Sports Vision this month. Seven was a shareholder in Sports Vision, with Optus and
Seven also plans to develop a general-entertainment
channel, as well as a movie service, through a joint venture with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc.