Television's golden boy David Lyle dead at 67

Australian television executive David Lyle has died at his Los Angeles home after a battle with cancer; Lyle was 67.

During a long and distinguished career, Lyle held senior positions at Network Ten, the ABC and the Nine Network.

After relocating to the US, Lyle held senior posts at Fremantle Media, the Fox Reality Channel and the National Geographic Channel.

Lyle's career in television was not accidental, but initially at least not intentional; he studied geology and geophysics at university and worked as an exploration geologist and high school chemistry teacher.

But the entertainment industry would to varying degrees draw in both Lyle and his brothers, Richard, who is the Nine Network's long-serving censor, and Adam, who worked at a number of media businesses, including Optus and Ticketek.

Though he worked at both Network Ten and the ABC, Lyle emerged as a major figure in Australian television as an executive at the Nine Network in the 1990s under Kerry Packer, overseeing a slate of entertainment content for the network at the peak of its commercial success.

Lyle moved initially to the UK to become head of worldwide development for the media company Pearson.

Later, when Pearson was merged into Fremantle Media, Lyle moved to the US to run the American arm of Fremantle, overseeing the early life of the American Idol program.

In 2005 he became president of the 20th Century Fox-owned Fox Reality Channel for a five-year period, and later managed Fox Look, which distributed unscripted content.

Between 2011 and 2014 Lyle was the chief executive officer of another Fox-owned broadcasting entity, the National Geographic Channels business, which was headquartered in Washington D.C.

In the broader creative industry, Lyle was a co-founder of the format rights advocacy group FRAPA, which sought to combat the rampant theft of intellectual property in the realm of unscripted programming and what was the then-emerging "reality" television genre.

More recently he led a merger of unscripted reality TV bodies into NPACT, merging the Nonfiction Producers Association with PactUS.

Aside from his high media profile as a television executive, Lyle moonlit in front of the camera as host of the 1980s series The Golden Years of Television, a compilation of iconic and archival classic programs.

That series, in an era before the prevalence of home media and digital streaming brought such gems out of the dusty corners of the network's tape library, indulged Lyle's passion for overlooked masterpieces, such as Lost in Space, Sergeant Preston of the Yukon and Number 96.

Lyle presented the program, on occasion, with his friend, the barrister - and later High Court Justice - Virginia Bell; on the program Bell played the fictional Ginger de Winter, president of the (equally fictional) New South Wales Barrel Girls Association.

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

This story Television's golden boy David Lyle dead at 67 first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.