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Peter Tonagh to take over as Foxtel CEO as Richard Freudenstein departs pay-TV operator

News Corp has announced Peter Tonagh as the new CEO of Foxtel, confirming the departure of Richard Freudenstein.

CEO Portrait Shoot 2008

New Foxtel CEO Peter Tonagh

The move comes after News Corp CEO Robert Thomson arrived in Australia for a Board meeting earlier this week.

Tonagh is currently joint News Corp head with Michael Miller.

Freudenstein: "It has been a privilege to lead Foxtel"

Freudenstein: “It has been a privilege to lead Foxtel”

“It has been a privilege to lead Foxtel through the most dynamic and intensely competitive period of its history,” said Freudenstein.

“I am extremely proud to have worked with such a great team of people who have all helped deliver our strategic plans by achieving significant subscriber growth, reduced churn and a substantial lift in our investment in Australian programming.”

The move marks a return for Tonagh to Foxtel who was COO under Freundenstein, before being promoted to News Corp head office.

“Foxtel is an incredible business with an exciting future and I look forward to building on Richard’s contribution to deliver the next stage of Foxtel’s growth,” said Tonagh.

The news comes on the same day that news emerged Telstra is considering a $4.5 billion initial public offering or sale of its 50 per cent stake in Foxtel as the pay TV giant.

News of the shake up at Foxtel first emerged earlier today, with both News Corp and Foxtel refusing to comment on the speculation.

The Australian Financial Review’s Rear Window column today reported speculation that Freudenstein was set to depart after almost five years in the role.

The national financial newspaper noted that News Corp CEO Robert Thomson is currently in the country while Mumbrella understands a Foxtel Board meeting was held earlier this week.

Nic Christensen

The announcement:

Foxtel Chief Executive Officer, Richard Freudenstein, has announced that he will stand down from the company after four-and-a-half years to pursue other interests.

News Corp Australia Chief Executive Officer,​ Peter Tonagh, ​will take over as Foxtel’s chief executive.

“It has been a privilege to lead Foxtel through the most dynamic and intensely competitive period of its history. I am extremely proud to have worked with such a great team of people who have all helped deliver our strategic plans by achieving significant subscriber growth, reduced churn and a substantial lift in our investment in Australian programming,” Mr Freudenstein said.

Foxtel Chairman, Robert Nason, thanked Mr Freudenstein on behalf of Foxtel’s shareholders, Telstra and News Corp, for his determination in driving the company’s success in both its commercial results and the quality of content it delivered to consumers.

Mr Freudenstein said he was proud of the Foxtel team’s achievements. “So much has happened in the past four-and-a-half years. Highlights include the 2012 London Olympics where we revolutionised coverage with eight channels and every gold medal live, the launch of Foxtel Go, the re-packaging of Foxtel content to reduce prices and drive record growth, the finalisation of major sporting deals, and the launch of an exciting array of Australian programs, many of which have won major awards. We have been at the forefront of the revolution in the way Australians view television.”

Mr Freudenstein said Foxtel had played a big part in his professional life. “I was a member of the Foxtel team in its earliest days in the 1990s and it has been a genuine privilege to lead it during these important years. I am confident that the business has the financial strength, innovative spirit and depth and breadth of content relationships to meet the challenges of a rapidly changing media landscape. I am excited about Foxtel’s future and I wish Peter and the team all the best.”

Mr Freudenstein will leave Foxtel at the end of April but will remain in his long-standing position as a News Corp nominee on the board of REA Group Limited (REA).

News Corp’s global Chief Executive, Robert Thomson, thanked Mr Freudenstein for his strategic direction and leadership of Foxtel and particularly welcomed his decision to stay on the REA board.

“News Corp is now the world’s largest player in digital real estate and Richard has been integral to our domestic and international growth,” Mr Thomson said.

“His leadership and guidance were pivotal in the acquisition of realtor.com in the US and I am delighted he will remain involved in this dynamic part of our business.”

Telstra Chief Executive Officer, Andrew Penn, said it was important Foxtel maintained its momentum.

“Peter is well positioned to lead Foxtel through the next phase of its evolution and build on Richard’s achievements,” Mr Penn said.

Mr Tonagh, who held the joint roles of Chief Operating Officer and Chief Financial Officer at Foxtel for nine years, said it was an honour to return to a business he knew and loved.​ ​

“Foxtel is an incredible business with an exciting future and I look forward to building on Richard’s contribution to deliver the next stage of Foxtel’s growth,” Mr Tonagh said.

Mr Freudenstein and Mr Tonagh will work together to transition the Foxtel leadership over coming weeks.

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