Tony Manson graduated with a Masters in English Literature, and followed it with a degree in broadcasting. In 1986 he signed on with the TVNZ Documentary Unit at Avalon Studios in Wellington. Here he cut his teeth as a director and producer in factual television, guided by documentary/features head Michael Scott-Smith, veteran broadcaster Ian Johnstone, and producer Pamela Meekings-Stewart.

Manson left TVNZ in 1990 and moved to Auckland to establish himself as a freelance director, writer, and producer. His primetime director credits from this period range across sports entertainment (Clash of the Codes), docudrama series (Heroes), lifestyle programmes (Maggie's Garden Show, Holiday, Open Home), and documentaries.

In 1994 former TVNZ employee John Harris set up independent production company Greenstone Pictures. Harris soon grew so busy that he had little time for hands-on producing, and in 1997 he hired Manson as his first producer, later arguing it was "one of the best things I've done".   

Over the next seven years, Manson produced then executive produced a range of Greenstone titles including the popular Epitaph, Shipwreck, and Secret New Zealand, as well as a variety of fly-on-the-wall series for primetime TV - Kids' Hospital and The Zoo among them.

The Manson-produced doco Cave Creek: The Full Story of a National Tragedy won the Best Documentary award at the 1998 NZ Television Awards, while Shipwreck won a Qantas Media Award for Best Information Series in 2000.  Shipwreck went on to take a finalist certificate at 2001‘s New York International Television Festival.

Manson's work as an executive producer and network commissioner means he has had a guiding hand in developing and producing more than 1000 hours of primetime television.

Tony Manson is currently co-Commissioner of Factual Reality, Entertainment and Lifestyle at TVNZ, alongside Kath Graham, where he oversees a slate which varies from primetime factual series (Off the Radar and Ice), through reality series (Piha Rescue and Rapid Response), entertainment (Dancing with the Stars, Who Wants to be a Millionaire?, and Stars in their Eyes) and the occasional offbeat comedy (Wayne Anderson: Singer of Songs, Moon TV Network).