ABC Managing Director Michelle Guthrie has been fired.
Guthrie, a former News Corp employee, was often criticised for the Murdochisation of the ABC under her tenure. Guthrie replaced respected ABC boss Mark Scott in April 2016. At one point she was CEO of Murdoch’s STARTV in Hong Kong and before that was based at Foxtel.
Under her leadership, shows such as Four Corners have taken on a tabloid feel. Sensationalism via an editorial relationship with the Fairfax media group made for strange bedfellows. ‘Foot in the door’ journalism became common under her rule.
The official announcement from the ABC follows:
The ABC Board has announced that Michelle Guthrie today departed from the role of Managing Director.
The decision follows discussions over several months that concluded when directors resolved that it was not in the best interests of the ABC for Ms Guthrie to continue to lead the organisation.
Chairman Justin Milne said the Board believed that new leadership would benefit the organisation, its dedicated employees, and the ABC’s audiences.
“In resolving to seek fresh leadership, the Board’s foremost consideration was the long-term interests of our own people and the millions of Australians who engage with ABC content every week,” Mr Milne said.
“This decision has been driven by our commitment to deliver the best possible outcomes for our loyal audiences and the best possible experience for our own people.
“We understand that transitions can be disruptive in the short-term. However, the ABC is fortunate to have an experienced and capable executive team that will provide continuity in the months ahead.
“The board wishes to thank Michelle for her contribution to the ABC. We are very grateful for all her hard work,” Mr Milne concluded.
The ABC Board has invited David Anderson to serve as Acting Managing Director until the role is filled on a permanent basis in coming months.
Mr Anderson is currently Director, Entertainment & Specialist, responsible for broadcast television networks and associated services, radio music networks, podcasts and specialist radio content. He has enjoyed a successful career in the broadcast television and media industry for nearly 30 years.
“I recognise the challenges involved in transitions of this kind but I am honoured to accept the Board’s invitation and look forward to working with our outstanding people to execute our strategy,” Mr Anderson said.
Succession planning receives continuous attention from the ABC Board. It has commenced a formal search process that will involve internal and external candidates. By law, Managing Directors are selected by the ABC Board independently of the Government and Opposition of the day.