Vale David Lyle

25 September, 2017 by Don Groves

David Lyle. 

The Australian and international broadcasting industry has paid tribute to David Lyle as a champion of Australia’s creative and executive talent and as a pioneer of unscripted formats.


A former exploration geologist and high school chemistry teacher, he held senior executive roles at the ABC and Ten and Nine Networks before moving to the UK and later the US.

He died last Thursday at his home in Los Angeles, aged 67. His first international role was as head of worldwide development and acquisitions at Pearson Television in the UK, where he co-ordinated productions across more than two dozen territories and acquired US and international unscripted formats.

In 2001 he relocated to Los Angeles as president of entertainment for FremantleMedia North America until 2004, collaborating with Simon Fuller’s 19 Entertainment to turn Fox’s American Idol into the most-watched primetime series.

In 2005 he was named president of the Fox-owned Fox Reality Channel, which was known for racy fare such as My Bare Lady, Battle of the Bods and Seducing City. The channel was transformed into Nat Geo Wild in early 2010.

He then became CEO of National Geographic Channels, a joint venture between Fox and the National Geographic Society, launching such franchises as Wicked Tuna, Life Below Zero and the Emmy-nominated Brain Games.

After he departed in 2014 he served as president of the PactUS organisation, an offshoot of the UK’s Producers Alliance for Cinema and Television, which this year merged with the rival Non-Fiction Producers Association, creating NPact.

He was also a co-founder of the Format Recognition and Protection Association (FRAPA), which aims to protect producers against unauthorised copying of proprietary TV formats.

Screen Producers Australia CEO Matt Deaner said, “David Lyle was a true champion of the creative development of the television industry and independent producers from the start of his career in Australia. This core passion was reflected in his international success and will serve as one of his key legacies. As FremantleMedia’s breakthrough executive in the US market, he took his innate maverick charm through to every level of his sterling ascension through the international broadcasting ranks.

“He was not only at the forefront on content development, but a tireless advocate for the issues affecting the industry globally in his devoted work with trade associations NPACT and PactUS and industry advocacy for the format sector as co-founder of FRAPA.

“The Australian screen industry is lucky to be able to name David Lyle as one of its own and Screen Producers Australia honours his outstanding work in helping put Australian industry voices into the global arena and setting the template for how to forge new paths internationally as a highly respected trailblazer and gentleman.”

Long-time friend and former colleague,  FremantleMedia Australia regional CEO Ian Hogg, tells IF, “David was one of those people that instantly lit up a room. His energy, passion, intellect and drive was absolutely infectious. His loss will be deeply felt, not only by all at Fremantle but the broader industry at large. Janne, Sam, Polly, Joanna and the extended family are so very much in our thoughts.”

Lyle is survived by his wife Janne and children Sam, Polly and Joanna.