TV legend David Leckie receives top honors

Once one of the most powerful figures on Australian television, David Leckie has been posthumously appointed a Member of the Order of Australia, in recognition of his significant contribution to the broadcast industry over four decades.

Leckie, who passed away last July after a long illness, was the former chief executive of the Nine and Seven Networks. His wife Skye Leckie said it was an honor to celebrate his legacy.

David Leckie, who turned the Nine and Seven Networks into top-performing television stations, died last year at age 70.Credit:Michelle Mossop

“Getting two networks to number one is a pretty high achievement,” she said. “Harry, my son, said at the funeral that he did have a mistress in the form of a television. That was his first love.

“I think it’s a great acknowledgment of, believe it or not, a man who never really wanted to put him in the spotlight, like his wife. He would be uncomfortable ashamed, but inside he would be very, very wary.”

Educated at Newington College and Macquarie University, Leckie, who was once referred to as “The Great One”, was regarded as a force of the Australian television industry. He helped save and rebuild the Seven Network after being fired from rival Nine in 2001. Leckie had made Nine the highest-rated commercial network in Australia.

His recognition comes two months after the 100th birthday of his father, Ron Leckie. “The Queen has been busy writing the Leckies this year,” Skye Leckie joked.

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During Leckie’s time with Nine, from 1991 to 2001, the network had only six weeks to fail to gain ratings, allowing it to brag time and again that it was “Still the One.” In 2003, Seven chairman Kerry Stokes offered Leckie the chance to run his then struggling television network. He changed the fortunes of Seven by choosing programs that appealed to a laid-back population in the suburbs, which he called the Australian heartland.

Seven West Media boss James Warburton said the honor was well deserved, but his former colleague would have found it inconvenient. “He would have hated it,” he said. “He never wanted to be in the spotlight and always wanted Seven and his people to get the accolades. I know Skye and their boys would be very proud of him today.”

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