Tony Iffland departs SBS after three years as director of television

tony iffland


Tony Iffland has announced he is leaving SBS after three years as director of television, with the broadcaster set to put the remit for TV with chief digital officer Marshall Heald.

Respected programmer Iffland joined SBS in January 2012 from BBC Worldwide as director of TV and online, and is credited with helping to modernise the broadcaster with a series of programming innovations including events like Tropfest and Sydney Mardi Gras.

He was also responsible for an overhaul on SBS 2 designed to make it more appealing to a youth audience, and was one of the first broadcasters to make box sets of series available online as a show aired to enable ‘binge watching’.

In a statement today SBS Managing Director Michael Ebeid said: “I thank Tony for the huge contribution he has made to SBS. Tony’s commitment to innovation in programming, focus on ensuring our audience is at the heart of everything we do, and the exceptional team he has built and nurtured leaves SBS television in great shape. I wish him the absolute best for the future.”Iffland added: “This was a tough decision and I am sad to leave such a great team but now is the right time for me to consider new opportunities. I am incredibly proud of our achievements on screen and in assembling a world-class content team.

“Our diversified portfolio of content means SBS is being enjoyed by more Australians. SBS has an invaluable role to play in contemporary Australia and is well-positioned to continue delivering great TV programs for all Australians.”

As well as local productions like First Contact, Legally Brown and Better Man Iffland also brought acclaimed international shows including Vikings, Masters of Sex and Fargo to the network.

However, the network has struggled to improve its audience share in recent years, and is facing efficiency savings of $10m due to funding cuts from the government. Whilst the stated aim of SBS 2 when it was relaunched was to get a 1 per cent audience share, it has struggled to improve on its previous share, well under that mark.



He will be replaced by chief digital officer Heald, with Ebeid saying the decision to bring together the online and TV roles was in order to create “agile operational structures”.

Whilst the title of director of television and online content was that given to Iffland when he first started with the broadcaster, Mumbrella understands the online elements were taken from the remit in 2013 and placed with Heald.

Heald joined SBS in 2007, and was made director of online and emerging platforms when Iffland arrived, before taking the role of chief digital officer in mid 2013. In that role he is responsible for catch-up service SBS On Demand and digital strategies.

The new role will see him oversee content across both platforms to align them, as well as technical functionality.

Ebeid said: “Bringing together the online and television content teams builds on the extensive work we’ve already done to join up our content approach across all our platforms.

“The changes are about evolving our ability to maximise investment in multiplatform content that reflects the Charter and enhances the experience for Australian audiences, delivering content in the ways they are consuming media today.

“Marshall’s extensive expertise in media, content and digital environments will be invaluable to SBS as we continue to deliver audiences high-impact content that reflects their changing media consumption habits whilst maintaining the integrity of the unique SBS Charter in providing all Australians with inspired content.”

Heald will take up the role at the end of January when Iffland departs.


Alex Hayes


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