Impey said in a press release that now – almost 20 years to the day since TV3's first broadcast – is an appropriate time to leave the day-to-day operations of the business to his management team.
Impey wasn't available to the media yesterday, but did appear on Maggie Barry's Radio Live show. She asked him whether he jumped or was pushed by the owners of MediaWorks, private equity group Ironbridge Captial, and Impey said an agreement had been reached (he also likened himself to a bus driver who was making way for another bus driver on 3 News last night, much to the amusement of the hosts of MediaWorks-run radio station The Edge).
Ironbridge, which bought MediaWorks off Canadian company CanWest in 2007, doesn't want to own a media company. It wants to sell a media company for a healthy profit, and speculation is that Impey's departure was set in motion by them in order to split the two divisions rather than run in under one umbrella so they can be sold independently.
MediaWorks are downplaying this but, adding to the speculation, said it won't be appointing a replacement CEO for the company and is instead appointing CEOs for the radio and television divisions.
The CEO of MediaWorks Radio will be Sussan Turner, currently COO MediaWorks Radio, although it's widely believed she's effectively been running MediaWorks radio anyway because Impey took a hands-on role with TV arm since previous COO of MediaWorks TV Rick Friesen left in September last year.
“I am pleased that I have been able to develop a very strong management team and I step down from the CEO role knowing that I will be leaving the company in good hands," Impey said in the press release. “. . . The board and shareholders wish to retain my services and input into the Company’s development and we have agreed on a part time consultancy until early 2011."
Board chairman Brent Harman paid tribute to Impey, who, in 1986, as TV3's lawyer, dedicated three years to the battle to attain the country's first private-broadcasting licence (the government soon deregulated the industry, however) and made some big changes when he was made CEO in 2000.
“A decade as a CEO is an impressive innings in any business; in the media business it’s quite spectacular," Harman says.
He pointed to Impey's passionate belief in media freedom, his recognition of the importance of clients, his hiring of great staff and his competitive streak.
"Brent has made an enormous contribution to the broadcasting landscape in New Zealand," he says.
He also added that "the business is in very good shape so it’s a case of business as usual for the company." Hmmm.