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Credit Where It’s Due: Julie Flynn

Last night, a who's who of the TV industry came together to farewell Julie Flynn, who is retiring after 15 years at the helm of industry body FreeTV. Mumbrella provides credit where it's due to an advocate who has had a profound impact on the way Australians consume television.

You get a sense of just how well respected Julie Flynn is in the media industry when almost all of the most recent CEOs of the major TV networks put aside their rivalries to come together to pay tribute.creditLogoFNl-234x102

Speaking at her farewell last night, Tim Worner CEO of Seven West Media said he had been asked to try to sum up Flynn in just three words. His response? “Boutros Boutros-Ghali (former UN secretary-general).

Flynn departing the TV industry role after 15 years.

Flynn is departing the TV industry role after 15 years

“Such is the job she has done in keeping us together and mostly united,” said Worner. “Julie Flynn has steered the free-to-air television industry through, what, without a shadow of a doubt, has been the most challenging and demanding period of our history.”

Flynn has led the TV industry body for more than a decade and half throughout major changes and challenges.

During her time in the television sector, Flynn has had to navigate a series of challenges, such as: the shift in TV screen dimensions away from 4:3; the move from analogue to digital; from single channel to multi-channels; multiple media reviews; secure major TV license fee reductions; and challenges created by the pay-TV lobby’s ongoing demands to water down the anti-siphoning list – which ensures that major sports such as AFL, NRL and cricket, are free for all Australians to view.

“It is Julie’s tenacity that has been the key driver of the success she has delivered to our industry,” said Worner, at last night’s event, adding that such was Flynnn’s drive that: “during the Convergence Review of 2012 her presence was so consistent that Crikey.com referred to her as the ‘Eddie everywhere’ of media lobbying.”

A Walkley award-winning political journalist, Flynn transitioned from the Canberra Press Gallery to a senior executive role with Radio 2UE before taking on the key industry role at the juncture of media and politics.

Flynn has worked with seven ministers for communications and five different Prime Ministers, all of whom came to recognise her as a powerful advocate for the industry, particularly on the question of keeping major sporting events free to view for all Australians.

Such was her effectiveness on this issue that then Foxtel CEO, Kim Williams, in anger, tried to dismiss Flynn at an industry event, labelling her the “Queen Canute” of Australia media.

“For those not familiar with 11th Century Scandinavian history,” noted Worner. “King Canute was supposedly a deluded monarch who believed he had natural powers to hold back the tide. Learned scholars of King Canute’s reign have also noted that one of his lesser known achievements was to arrange a reduction by one half of toll payments along the road from Gaul to Rome.

“So perhaps Kim’s label was quite prescient after all, how were we to know that Julie would be responsible for a 50% reduction in license fees? ” he added, referring to her recent success in convincing the government to lower TV licence fees at time of increased competition from 9.5% in 2009 to 3.75% today.

It is clear that Flynn has had a major contribution to the Australian media landscape. Her successor has yet to be named but one thing is certain, she will be very hard to replace.

Credit Where it’s Due is designed to generate positivity about our industry. While we welcome positive and constructive comments, anonymous or otherwise, this section is a snark-free zone so bear that in mind when commenting.

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