John Westacott: Ex-Channel Nine boss dies at 73 after falling off yacht following suspected medical episode

John Westacott: Ex-Channel Nine boss dies at 73 after falling off yacht following suspected medical episode
John Westacott died near Sydney Harbour after he fell in the water following a suspected medical episode (Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images)

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA: John Westacott, the former boss of Channel Nine boss, died on Sydney Harbour on Sunday, October 9, 2022, following a suspected medical episode during a sailing outing. Westacott, 73, a passionate sailor, reportedly died after suffering a suspected medical episode while on a yacht near Vaucluse. NSW Police Marine Area Command pulled him from the water after he fell from a boat at around 1.30 pm on Sunday, October 9, New South Wales police said on Monday, October 10. 

At Vaucluse wharf, NSW Ambulance paramedics tried to resuscitate him, but they were unable to do so. According to Daily Mail, the television titan was on the vessel with another man around the same age who reportedly survived the incident.

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While working at '60 Minutes' till 2010, Westacott was a legend in Sydney's television business. In 2007, the then-long-time executive producer of '60 Minutes' became Channel Nine's director of news and current affairs, replacing Garry Linnell. By that time, he had been at Nine for 23 years and was regarded as the most experienced TV news person at the then turmoil-riddled network.

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In 2008, Westacott hit the headlines after he was accused of making offensive and sexist remarks to female journalists. Los Angeles correspondent Christine Spiteri launched an unfair dismissal and sexual discrimination claim in which she cited language used by Westacott. It was claimed in the action that Westacott told a group of female journalists at a book launch the previous year that they were hired only for their sex appeal. The matter was eventually settled, with Spiteri reportedly receiving a six-figure sum.

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Meanwhile, Nine Network issued a statement remembering Westacott, 73, as a trailblazer in Australian television. According to News.com.au, the statement reads, “He was the longest-serving and most successful Executive Producer of 60 Minutes, a driving force of A Current Affair, and a visionary with Nine as the National Director of News and Current Affairs. Westy was an enigma. There was no one like him. He didn‘t care about political correctness and would publicly declare that. He didn‘t care where you came from, nor about your gender, ethnicity, or religious and political beliefs. He cared about whether you had the passion and ability to tell a great story. Westy made Nine a better place. He was a big vision, big picture person who made us all reach for the stars and land on them. We will miss him.”

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Westacott is survived by his wife Cecile and two sons.

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