Matthews replaces McGeoch as MediaWorks chairman

Aussie hits exit four months after the controversial chief executive he appointed.

MediaWorks has announced recently appointed board member Jack Matthews will succeed Rod McGeoch as the company’s chairman.

Mr Matthews takes up the role at the end of September, just over a month after new chief executive Michael Anderson got his feet under his desk (he officially started his appointment yesterday).

Mr McGeoch has held the position since 2013, during which time MediaWorks emerged from receivership and entered a tumultuous period of change under chief executive Mark Weldon, who Mr McGeoch publicly back to the hilt – even after his resignation in May this year.

“Leading MediaWorks out of receivership and into a place where MediaWorks Radio is number one and TV3 is gaining share has been incredibly rewarding,” Mr McGeoch says the media release announcing the move. “In these times of huge industry change and disruption, it is right to hand over to a chairman who resides in New Zealand and who brings extensive media expertise.”

For his part, Mr Matthews is quoted as saying he’s “very pleased to accept this position and look forward to working with a strong board, management team and, most importantly, a committed and passionate staff who are all focused on maintaining MediaWorks as a successful and important part of New Zealanders' daily lives.” 

An expatriate American, Mr Matthews has a colourful reputation for being combative.

“He’s not afraid to kick heads when he needs to. He is absolutely not afraid of confrontation,” Fairfax Digital general manager Pippa Leary said of her then-boss in a 2007 interview, which also included the observation from an anonymous employee that Mr Matthews “likes pushing people, testing people. He’ll sledge them to see how they react.”

The release touts Mr Matthews “significant experience in digital media and running and driving change in news organisations as well as in cable networks and broadband.”

Previous positions include chief executive of Metro Media (Australia), chief operating officer of Jupiter Programming (Japan), chief executive of Showtime (Australia) and chief executive of TelstraSaturn (NZ). 

In addition to his MediaWorks role, Mr Matthews is a board member of Crown Fibre Holdings, Network For Learning, Trilogy International and APN Outdoor and chairman of Melbourne-based digital start-up Rewardle Holdings.

As of October 1, MediaWorks’ board will be made up of Mr Matthews, Jonas Mitzschke, Paul Lockey, Julie Christie and Mr Anderson.

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