Freeview’s longstanding general manager has walked away from the consortium, just a week after TVNZ handed its exclusive channels to competitor pay TV competitor Sky TV.
Steven Browning, general manager and chief cheerleader for the Freeview consortium announced his resignation today, but told NBR the decision was not made under duress and that there is no bad blood.
“This announcement is about celebrating our success to date and, more importantly, the exciting future that lies ahead of us. Steve presided over the launch and phenomenal growth of Freeview by ensuring it has become recognised as an internationally acclaimed free-to-air digital TV platform,” TVNZ chief executive Rick Friesen says.
Mr Browning had long been pushing for Freeview to have access to the Sky-owned Prime TV, which has refused.
He now goes to join TiVo investors Hybrid as the New Zealand launch manager for the product, the popular progenitor of hard drive TV recorders everywhere.
TVNZ Chief Executive Rick Ellis confirmed last week that his company has bought a one-third share in Hybrid TV for $A8 million, the vehicle set up by the Seven Media Group in Australia, which up until now has held the exclusive TiVo license for Australia and New Zealand.
Mr Browning’s skills at juggling the vested interests of several separate broadcasters whims will no doubt be put to good use in his new role.
Mr. Browning led the launch of both the satellite and terrestrial Freeview platforms, taking New Zealand along the path to a fully digital television system.
He will finish up at Freeview on April 9, and marketing manager Sam Irvine will take over as acting general manager.
There is no word on a finalised replacement as of yet, but Mr Browning hopes Mr Irvine will be considered for the role.
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