Channel Seven's director of news and public affairs Peter Meakin has announced he is to step down from his job with the network, but will stay on at Seven ''in an advisory role''.
Meakin, 70, who has been with Seven for nine years and was a key executive at Nine's news/current affairs division before that, said he simply felt it was ''time to pull the plug on this chapter of my life''.
''It's been a wonderful nine years and I want to thank everyone who has taken Seven to the top,'' Meakin said in a statement released today.
''That includes Kerry Stokes, David Leckie, Tim Worner and all the great people who made me look better than I am.''
Meakin will be replaced by two new appointments, with Seven Brisbane's news director Rob Raschke now director of news, and managing director of Seven Queensland (Seven's Queensland coast stations) Neil Mooney as director of public affairs.
Seven West Media chairman Kerry Stokes paid tribute to Meakin, saying he was key to the network's current success. "Peter is a legend," he said.
"Nine years ago, I set out to secure his services for Seven," Stokes said. "He agreed to join our network as it set its sights on leadership, and today his track record speaks for itself: with his leadership of market-leading news and public affairs at two television networks over the past two decades.
"There's no one quite like Meakin. He has played a most critical role in driving home our leadership and I'm pleased that he'll continue to play a key role as we identify and nurture our future in news and public affairs on the Seven Network."
One of the more highly-regarded – and often controversial - television executives in Australia, Meakin is credited with masterminding much of Nine and Seven's news success.
A Walkley award-winner for leadership in journalism, Meakin is legendary in Australian television news, renowned as a dogged journalist who refuses to let a good story go, even when threatened with legal action.
On occasion he even made the headlines himself – such as this drink driving convictions in 2006 and 2007, which saw him banned from driving for eight years and given 250 hours of community service.
His decision to step down, while rumoured just this week after meetings between him, Today Tonight executive producer Craig McPherson and Mooney in Seven's Martin Place headquarters were reported, surprised many in the industry.
But perhaps the signs were there.
On Monday he talked about the need for consistency in news and newsrooms, but added the networks shouldn't fall into the trap of becoming staid.
"We can't keep serving up the same meal year after year. We have to be more inventive, more adventurous maybe, and I think you'll see that on Seven and Nine," he told Fairfax Media.