ABC boss Michelle Guthrie ousted from role as managing director

24 September, 2018, 18:25 | Author: Eleanor Thompson
  • ABC Brisbane headquarters in South Bank

She wasn't asked and didn't speak directly about her time at News Corp, but she did address questions about a partial commercialisation of the ABC, which we and others have speculated could be on the cards given her commercial experience.

ABC board chairman Justin Milne said that the decision was "in the long term interests of our people and the millions of Australians who engage with ABC content every week." n a statement the directors said they had decided it was "not in the best interests of the ABC for Ms Guthrie to continue to lead the organization".

For Milne having had Guthrie employed under that contract (one she signed when NSW former chief justice Jim Spigelman was ABC chairman) meant he could terminate her position without having actually doing anything demonstrably wrong. "It's an astonishing fail on her part", he said.

It was an issue that Ms Guthrie took up with gusto, sending an email to staff on her first day on the job calling for greater representation of women and multicultural communities in both the ABC's staff and its stories.

"ABC managing directors are appointed by the board".

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Guthrie, a lawyer who ran Star TV in Hong Kong and then worked at Google, came to the ABC in May 2016 to replace Mark Scott.

Ms Guthrie, at a Senate estimates hearing, rejects suggestions made in an opinion piece by former ABC presenter Johnathan Holmes that the public broadcaster is biased towards the left.

During her tenure she trumpeted higher investment in innovative content, investigative journalism and regional journalism, defending the ABC's independence and increasing efficiency across the ABC.

"I wanted the ABC to be as meaningful and relevant to my children and their children as it has been to me during my lifetime", she told the audience at ABC's first annual public meeting last February.

She was also critical of the government's competitive neutrality inquiry into how the ABC and the SBS operate alongside their commercial counterparts.

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Screen Producers Australia CEO Matt Deaner thanked Guthrie for her "dedicated engagement with our sector" and said he looks forward to continuing to work with the broadcaster and its management and Board.

Her mission as managing director, as she saw it, was to ensure the national broadcaster's longevity for future generations.

The Australian spoke to a number of current and former ABC and industry executives who requested anonymity.

"What on earth is the government's explanation for Michelle Guthrie's apparent sacking as head of the ABC".

Ms Guthrie spent more than four years as a director of Auckland Airport.

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Now she makes her exit from one of the country's most important media roles, in circumstances which attract the full glare of the public's attention.


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