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Sam Chisholm, Former BSkyB and Australian TV Executive, Dies at 78

Sam Chisholm, a pugnacious and colorful TV executive long affiliated with Rupert Murdoch’s media empires in Britain and Australia, died Monday. He was 78.

Born in New Zealand, Chisholm was appointed managing director of the Kerry Packer-owned Nine network, in Australia, in 1975. He was just 35 at the time.

With a feisty, larger-than-life approach to business, Chisholm oversaw some of Nine’s most profitable years before joining Murdoch’s Sky Television in the U.K in 1989. He was at the helm when the channels cluster took over rival British Satellite Broadcasting to form BSkyB, the still-dominant pay-TV group, renamed Sky, that Fox and Comcast are currently fighting to own.

Chisholm departed BSkyB in 1997 and joined the board of Australia’s Foxtel in 2001 as a representative of co-owner Telstra.

Born with a chronic enzyme deficiency, Chisholm became a major patron of cancer-research charities in Australia, and was awarded the Order of Merit in 2013 for his corporate leadership and medical fundraising.

He underwent a double lung replacement operation in 2003 that his family acknowledged had given him an extra 15 years of life. “He embraced his second chance at life, enjoying every single day and endeavoring to give back wherever he could,” daughter Caroline Chisholm told Australian media.

As a determined and successful executive, Chisholm seemed to enjoy both his success and his reputation as a bruiser. Australian media reported that he was responsible for popularizing the phrase “losers have meetings, winners have parties.”

“RIP television legend Sam Chisholm. Many years ago, I was collecting donations for diabetes research when I ran into him at Channel 9. He offered me $10,000 but only if I agreed not to tell anyone about it..’Everyone thinks I’m a prick and I plan on keeping that reputation,'” Nine presenter Ben Fordham tweeted.

 

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