The ABC board has sacked managing director Michelle Guthrie.
The decision follows discussions over several months that concluded when directors resolved that it was not in the best interests of the ABC for Michelle 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,” 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.”
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.
David 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,” 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.
Justin Milne told ABC News that Guthrie’s relationship with the Government “could have been better,” but that she “tried hard and was involved with government.”
“In an ideal world, I would like to see our relationship — I think the relationship between the ABC and Government is, on the one hand, difficult because of course we need to be independent from government, but it is an important relationship because the government funds us.”
He said political leaders did not pressure the ABC or have any involvement in its decision to sack Michelle Guthrie.
Communications Minister Mitch Fifield responded to the board’s decision saying:
“The Government thanks Michelle Guthrie and acknowledges her service as Managing Director of the ABC for the past two and a half years in what is a challenging and rapidly changing media environment.
“ABC Managing Directors are appointed by the Board. The ABC Board has legislated independence in relation to management appointments and the Government respects the duty and role of the Board in these matters.”
Guthrie says she is seeking legal advice (see related report).
Chairman Justin Milne spoke to ABC TV News, answering the question has she been sacked? “Her employment withthe corporation has been terminated as of this morning,” he replied. Click the pic below to view the interview.