David Leckie, one of the most senior executives in Australian television, is dead. He died at home at Mulberry Farm on Tuesday after a prolonged illness.

Leckie was CEO of Nine Network from 1990 to 2001. In 2003, he joined Seven Network and led it to ratings success.

Leckie held several senior roles with the Seven group, including CEO of Seven Network, MD and CEO of Seven Media Group and Seven West Media, and was a board director of Seven Network Limited, Seven West Media and Seven Group Holdings.

“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,” said Seven West Media MD and CEO, James Warburton,

“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,” said Kerry Stokes, chairman of Seven West Media in a statement.

“David Leckie was a giant of television,” Nine CEO, Mike Sneesby said. “He set the culture of excellence at Nine that still exists in our DNA today and we thank him for that.”

Leckie is survived by his wife Skye and sons Tim, Harry and Ben.