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    Industry remembers Harold Mitchell after his passing at 81

    Media buyer Harold Mitchell has died aged 81.

    Mitchell founded the communications group Mitchell & Partners in 1976, before selling it to Britain’s Aegis Group in 2012 for $363 million. He also founded the Harold Mitchell Foundation in 2000 and was a major contributor to Australian public life.

    The Harold Mitchell Foundation website confirms his passing on the evening of February 10, saying that he died “whilst recuperating from knee replacement surgery.”

    “He was a wonderful man who helped so many. He will be sadly missed,” the site adds.

    He had worked in roles including Chairman of Free TV Australia from 2013 to 2018, where he was involved in the repeal of the media ownership laws, the removal of commercial television licence fees, the transition to digital only television, defeating the proposal to increase SBS advertising time limits, and maintaining the anti-siphoning list.

    He also worked on the board of institutions including the Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health, Opera Australia, and Tennis Australia.

    Mitchell was appointed Companion of the Order of Australia for eminent service to the community through leadership and philanthropic endeavours in the fields of art, health, and education, and as a supporter of humanitarian aid in Timor-Leste and the indigenous community.

    Leading figures from across the industry have paid tribute to Mitchell.

    Seven West Media managing director and chief executive officer, James Warburton, said “Harold was a fierce, tough competitor and a true legend of the Australian media and advertising industry. He loved media. He was passionate about selling the impact and value of advertising. He was a great friend to the TV industry and many of us learnt a lot from him. Our deepest sympathies go to Harold’s family at this very sad time.”

    Seven West Meda chairman, Kerry Stokes said “Harold was a visionary and a leader in the media industry over many decades. He will also be remembered as a great philanthropist and supporter of the arts and sports. Harold was a doyen of the industry and a great friend over the 40 years we had known each other. He had a wonderful sense of humour and a was groundbreaker in the way media was monetised. I enjoyed his company, and he will be missed by us all.”

    Atomic 212° chairman, Barry O’Brien OAM said “This is an incredibly sad day with the loss of Harold Mitchell. My sincere condolences to his family.

    “Harold was a powerhouse of the media industry and the platform for many people to start their own agencies. I had the privilege of working with him for several years and I saw, first hand, his philosophy that everyone at the table had to win: the client, the media and his business. As such, he was a true wealth creator.

    “Harold was also known for the amazing support he gave to many charities and institutions, all of which benefited from his wide range of connections.”

    Free TV CEO, Bridget Fair, said “Harold’s contributions to the industry cannot be overstated. During his time as Chairman of Free TV he was pivotal in some of the most significant developments in the commercial television sector and delivered superb leadership and advice. He left a lasting and important legacy at Free TV, having significantly changed the industry for the better and contributing to the sustainability and growth of free-to-air television in his time as Chairman. Harold’s strategic insights and steadfast commitment to the industry’s best interests contributed significantly to its resilience and relevance in an evolving digital era.

    “Speaking personally, I am devastated at Harold’s loss. He was an outstanding Chairman for Free TV as well as being a personal friend and mentor. It was a great privilege to have had the opportunity to work with and learn from a respected business leader of his calibre with such a deep understanding of commercial television and the wider industry landscape. He was generous with his knowledge, his energy and his time in furthering the interests of Free TV broadcasters.”

    Former 3AW Mornings host Neil Mitchell remembered him by saying “I wouldn’t for a moment doubt his commitment to Melbourne.

    “Whenever we disagreed, and we disagreed quite often, it was on a point of principle to do with the city. I remember they were going to have Japanese war drums in the forecourt of the Shrine of Remembrance and I thought that was a very bad look, Japanese war drums at a war memorial.

    “He and I had an aggressive on-air debate about it, my recollection is that he complained to management about me and then we went to lunch and sorted it all out.”

    Director of The Florey Institute in Melbourne – where Mitchell served as the chairman for eight years – Professor Trevor Kilpatrick said “We are saddened to hear of the passing of Harold Mitchell.

    “He was hugely proud of The Florey and was a very generous philanthropic donor whose substantial donations have supported scientists to conduct world-leading research here in Melbourne.

    On behalf of all at The Florey, I extend my heartfelt sympathies and condolences to Harold’s family and friends.”

    This article will be updated.

    Top Image: Harold Mitchell

    The post Industry remembers Harold Mitchell after his passing at 81 appeared first on Mediaweek.

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