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Veteran media exec Joan Withers joins Sky TV board

Tuesday 17th September 2019

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Veteran media executive and company director Joan Withers has joined Sky Network Television. 

She joins the pay-TV operator's board immediately, filling a casual vacancy, and will seek election from shareholders at the annual meeting on Oct. 17. 

"We are delighted to have someone of Joan’s calibre joining our board. She brings a wealth of experience spanning a 25-year career in the media industry, including CEO positions at Fairfax and The Radio Network as well as being the former chair of TVNZ," Sky chair Philip Bowman said in a statement. 

Withers is stepping down as chair of Mercury NZ later this month. She is currently chair of Warehouse Group and a director of ANZ Bank New Zealand. 

Her appointment is part of a major shake-up at the media group, with chief executive Martin Stewart replacing veteran John Fellet earlier this year and Bowman taking over the chair from Peter Macourt, another long-standing board member at Sky. 

Other directors include Steel & Tube chair Susan Paterson, ex-SAP executive Geraldine McBride, Hyperfactory founder Derek Handley, and former News International executive Mike Darcey. Stewart also sits on the board. 

Sky TV dropped its dividend this year to retain funds to compete more aggressively for key sports rights. It was outbid by Spark New Zealand for the Rugby World Cup this year, and its existing broadcast rights for All Blacks rugby tests, Super Rugby and New Zealand's domestic competition end next year.

Stewart is firmly focused on streaming services, describing it as Sky's pathway to long-term sustainability. Last month, the company bought online rugby streaming services RugbyPass for up to US$40 million in cash and shares to gain rugby rights in jurisdictions outside New Zealand.

The firm's shares have been languishing near a record-low, and closed yesterday at $1.14, valuing the media group at $472.2 million. 


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