TVNZ brings back former topper

Ellis returns as chief executive

Television New Zealand has re-appointed a chief executive it dropped four years ago, ending a six-month leadership hiatus.

Rick Ellis was topper of the two-channel pubcaster from 1998 to 2002 when he and other commercially focused execs were cleared out by the government-appointed board.

His replacement, Ian Fraser, resigned in October claiming board interference in day-to-day management.

Allegations led to a parliamentary probe and coincided with sliding ratings for its top-rating channel Television One.

Ellis said on Monday that he aimed to “provide leadership and rebuild a sense of stability” when he returns to TVNZ mid-May.

But management changes are likely as he reviews changes during his four years away.

Back in 2002 Ellis was portrayed as part of TVNZ’s commercial past, before 2003’s TVNZ Charter stipulated that the broadcaster move away from commercial fare towards more local content, including documentaries and discussion programs.

Fraser is a TV performer and arts aficionado whose previous job was heading the country’s Symphony Orchestra.

Ellis says he is coming back with what he calls “added value.” During his absence he had been involved in boosting local production as chairman of the Television Local Content Group and is a member of the board of governors of Radio New Zealand.