Sunday, 21 October, 2018

Michelle Guthrie forced out of ABC

ABC Brisbane headquarters in South Bank ABC Brisbane headquarters in South Bank
Jodi Jackson | 24 September, 2018, 22:35

Michelle Guthrie's lack of passion for the ABC and her tin-ear will not be missed by ABC staff.

The board of directors decided she had to go "in the best interests of the ABC". On her watch the ABC embarked on a transformation program that saw it invest in digital initiatives, often to increase output of "lifestyle" content, de-fund some "harder" traditional television and radio programs, and collaborated with commercial media organisations on major investigations.

Radio host Jon Faine launched an incredible on-air spray at Michelle Guthrie, whose position as the public broadcaster's managing director was terminated on Monday. "I am considering my legal options", she said.

Michelle Guthrie, one of the highest profile women executives in global television, has been fired as managing director of public broadcaster, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

David Anderson who is now ABC's head of specialist and factual will stand in as the interim managing director.

Long-time ABC critic and Liberal MP Eric Abetz said Guthrie's replacement must bring to an end "the frolics masquerading as news and "comedy" from some ABC employees".

ABC Chairman Justin Milne said the decision was made in the "long-term interests of our own people and the millions of Australians who engage with ABC content every week".

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.

"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", the statement said.

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.

And she rejected Communications Minister Mitch Fifield's suggestion that the ABC could easily accommodate the latest 1 per cent efficiency divided required by the government.

The host of the ABC's nightly news bulletin in Sydney, Juanita Phillips, also weighed in on the sacking.

In a later interview on ABC News, Milne said the board had been "looking at the question of Michelle's ongoing employment for the last couple of months".

In an email to staff at the time, she said: "I am very disappointed and concerned that after the measures we have introduced in recent years to deliver better and more efficient services, the government has now seen fit to deliver what amounts to a further substantial budget cut".

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