Former Seven and Nine boss David Leckie dies aged 70

Australian television legend David John Leckie has died at age 70, with his family revealing the former Seven West Media (SWM) boss passed away this morning after suffering a long illness.

Leckie was hired by Kerry Stokes AC in 2003 and served as chief executive of SWM until 2012, before stepping down due to ill health. He departed the company entirely in 2016.

He held several senior roles within the Seven group, including CEO of Seven Network, MD and CEO of Seven Media Group and SWM, and a director of Seven Network Limited, Seven West Media and Seven Group Holdings.

Leckie is widely credited with turning around Seven’s fortunes in the 2000s. Before joining Seven, Leckie led rival network Nine from 1990 to 2001 when he was sacked by owner Kerry Packer in 2001. He held executive roles in the Australian television industry for 40 years from 1977 to 2017.

SWM chairman Stokes farewelled Leckie: “I had a close association and friendship with David for more than 20 years and finally enticed him to Seven in 2003, when he started the difficult process in turning around the network’s fortunes.

“David achieved the turnaround quickly and effectively, building a winning team, financial and programming model, which delivered us leadership of the TV industry for many years.

“He had a magnificent grasp of television and what people wanted to enjoy, whether it be news and current affairs or light entertainment programming, and he achieved success in every aspect of his leadership of Seven. He leaves a great legacy and I pass on my sympathies to Skye, Harry, Ben and Tim and the rest of his family, who he loved very much.

“Vale my friend David.”

SWM MD and CEO, James Warburton, who swore in a 2011 affidavit that Lackie once called media buyers “fuckwits” and “dopes”, said Leckie was the reason he decided to get into the television business.

“David was a true legend of the Australian media industry and a loved part of the Seven family. Everyone at Seven will miss him enormously.

“Inspiring, engaging, loud, passionate and famously difficult at times, he was an extraordinary sales person and an intuitive TV programmer. Without a doubt he was the best TV executive this country has ever seen and an important influence and mentor for so many people and careers. He was once labelled the last of the rock star CEOs and I’d say that was a pretty good description.

“My heartfelt sympathies go to Skye and their boys. There will only ever be one David Leckie. It was a great privilege to have known and worked with him.”

David Leckie with Kerry Stokes

Leckie’s TV career began in 1977 at Nine in Melbourne. Just five years later he was named network sales director at TCN in Sydney by Sam Chisholm, before taking over from Chisolm as MD in 1990 when the latter headed to the UK.

Nine’s current CEO, Mike Sneesby, called Leckie “a giant of television. He contributed enormously to the success we all shared with him here at Nine, his instincts and leadership heralded the golden era of Australian television.

“He adored his family and so many of us stayed in touch as a friend even after he left.  He set the culture of excellence at Nine that still exists in our DNA today and we thank him for that.  We extend our deepest sympathies to wife Skye and his two sons Harry and Ben Leckie.”

In a statement, his wife Sky Leckie OAM, and children Harry and Ben Leckie, said: “With immense sadness we advise the passing of our adored and much- loved husband and father, David Leckie.

Leckie passed away at Mulberry Farm, Robertson after a long illness this morning. He was surrounded by his loving family. He was the eldest son of Ron and Joyce (deceased) Leckie, brother of Stuart and Ian Leckie, and uncle to nine nieces and nephews and great uncle to four great-nieces and great-nephews.”

The family revealed Leckie will be farewelled at a small private service funeral due to COVID restrictions. The funeral will be live-streamed, and a celebration of his life will take place as soon as possible following the lifting of COVID restrictions.


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