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Foxtel’s pioneering Australian TV executive Brian Walsh dies suddenly

Brian Walsh, a titan of the Australian television and entertainment industry, has died suddenly in Sydney aged 67.

Brian Walsh

Walsh, a trusted Murdoch advisor, was the driving force behind leading pay TV group Foxtel from its inception in 1995 and steered the media company through its expansion over its 28-year history.

Across the creative, political and business spectrums, Walsh was highly respected, admired and coveted as an industry confidante. He served as director of TV for much of his Foxtel career and at the time of his death he was the company’s executive director of drama and senior content consultant.

Ross Crowley, a former Foxtel veteran and senior executive, told C21: “Brian Walsh was a leader, mentor, colleague and dear friend to many at all levels of the entertainment industry. A fearlessly creative, innovative and deeply loyal champion of television, film, live music and theatre, and of the people who made it.

“There are many across these industries who owe him for at least some of their successes in life. His impact and his loss will be felt by us all for a long time. He will be deeply, deeply missed.”

Crowley worked with Walsh at Foxtel for 25 years and was also a founding executive. He left the company in 2020.

Walsh began his career with public broadcaster ABC before going into feature-film production and distribution at Palm Beach Pictures and working across radio and commercial TV network Network Ten, where he is credited for pioneering the global success of Neighbours and launching the careers of Kylie Minogue, Jason Donovan and Guy Pearce.

At Foxtel, in 1995, he was a founding member of the management team that established Australian subscription television.

Foxtel Group CEO Patrick Delany said: “This is a very difficult day for the Foxtel Group family, for Australia’s creative community and the millions of Australians who watched and loved the stories that Brian bought to life through television. Australia’s creative community has lost a much-loved figure in Brian. For us, the loss is heavily felt.”

Screen Australia’s CEO Graeme Mason described Walsh as a “force of nature” and said: “It’s not possible to overstate the incredible impact he had on Australian storytelling. His support for quality and ambitious local drama was absolutely vital to the growth of the local industry and the establishment of so many successful careers over many decades. He championed the place of local drama, its production in Australia and promoted the local stories he oversaw with more ambition and quiet energy than almost anything I can think of.

“I loved working with him, everyone at Screen Australia did. Brian had very strong relationships locally and internationally but at the core it all came down to his passion for creativity, content and above all else people.”

Screen Producers Australia (SPA) acknowledged his part in shaping and representing the industry and growing its reputation on the world stage.

“Brian’s contributions to Australian television during his career have helped shape Australian culture and identity on screens locally and internationally, and for this, we will be eternally appreciative and grateful,” said SPA CEO Matt Deaner.

“Brian was an avid supporter of opportunities to bring about progress and change in our industry and was a key figure over many years at our Screen Forever conference. His commitment, dedication and drive for the advancement of the Australian screen industry and Australian screen stories – particularly television drama – was staggering and will be sorely missed.”

Walsh was a veteran of international TV markets, particularly Mipcom and C21’s Content London. His presence was very visible in pushing and showcasing Australian television content and its creators to global buyers and distributors.

Natalie Lawley, MD of Australian distributor Escapade Media, said: ”Brian Walsh was an icon in the television industry. He was always so very generous with his time and advice to Escapade and our projects. This is a huge loss for the industry.”

Screen Territory director Jennie Hughes added: “I am saddened by the news of Brian Walsh’s passing. Brian was an incredible marketer and promoter of Australian talent and content and was instrumental in the rise and success of Foxtel. He was an icon and will be greatly missed.”

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