Top TVNZ Vet Quits for New Role

A top TVNZ executive is joining one of the production houses behind some of the broadcaster’s most successful shows.

Here’s the media release:


Great Southern Television, New Zealand’s largest locally owned production company, has appointed TVNZ top senior executive Cate Calver as the new Chief Executive Officer.

Calver has worked at TVNZ for the past 10 years, with most of that time as Director of Content. She is currently in the role of Chief Transformation Officer.

She is a lawyer by trade, and before TVNZ spent seven years at sport and entertainment giant IMG in London and Auckland.

She will replace current CEO Philip Smith, the founder and owner of the company, who will remain actively involved in the position of Chief Creative Officer. Smith has been CEO since launching the company with the late Sir David Levene in 2002.

Calver says: “I’m absolutely thrilled to be joining Great Southern Television.  Philip is an incredibly talented creative and executive and has built a strong independent production company with a fantastic reputation both locally and globally.  I can’t wait to help steer it through its next chapter.”

Smith says the appointment is an exciting step forward for the company, which is a multi award-winning international producer of drama and factual series, producing shows such as One Lane Bridge, The Casketeers and Tracked.

The shows all screen to large global audiences on AMC, Netflix and Discovery Channel respectively. Great Southern Television also produces the award-winning current affairs series The Hui.

Locally, the company produces a range of shows for TVNZ, Warner Bros. Discovery ANZ (Three), Sky and Whakaata Māori and Radio New Zealand.

“With the industry in a state of change, we have secured New Zealand’s smartest head to guide us through this exciting phase. Cate is a strong leader and blue-sky thinker, and we are absolutely delighted that she has chosen to join the Great Southern whānau (family).

“As a creatively-led company with a strong cultural foundation and history of innovative thinking, Cate aligns perfectly with Great Southern Television’s values.”

Great Southern Television’s currently has three dramas in production, Friends Like Her, Spinal Destination and Noob in major deals with international partners Fifth Season, Hattrick and Oble respectively.

“Cate has displayed great vision and leadership at TVNZ, where she led the Content Department for a number of years and oversaw the content strategy which has seen the network’s streaming service TVNZ+ transform from a catch-up service to a fully-fledged entertainment and sport streamer – providing the network with a globally acknowledged success story.

“We know she will bring the same robust thinking to Great Southern Television.

“With so many international series currently in production at Great Southern Television, my focus will switch to the creation and packaging of content for local and international clients – allowing GSTV to take even more great NZ series to the world,” Smith says.

Calver will take up the role in January 2024.

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