Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) Chairman Justin Milne has announced that the Board of Directors has decided to part ways with Managing Director Michelle Guthrie.

By Daniel Herborn

Posted on September 24, 2018

Guthrie had been in the role since May 2016 and had been the first woman to be Managing Director at the public broadcaster.

She had been responsible for leading the ABC’s broadcast television networks and associated servcies as well as its radio networks and its growing stable of podcast content.

ABC Chairman: Guthrie’s sacking is in the “long-term interests” of the ABC

Chairman Justin Milne said Guthrie’s exit was in the “long-term interests of our own people and the millions of Australians who engage with ABC content every week”.

“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,” he continued.

“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.”

There was reportedly internal tension between Guthrie and the board over the direction of Project Jetstream, an ambitious attempt to reshape the ABC as a digital post-television media service.

During her time as MD, Guthrie oversaw some 170 redundancies in early 2017. She also restructured the organisation into three new divisions based on genre of content instead of platform or media.

Before leading the ABC, Guthrie had been Managing Director of Agencies APAC at Google. She had also been CEO of Star TV for seven years and served as Director of Business and Legal Development at Foxtel.

David Anderson will be acting Managing Director of ABC

While the ABC searches for a new Managing Director, David Anderson, currently Director of Entertainment and Specialist, will act in the role.

“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,” he said.

In an email to ABC staff, “The board has given long and detailed consideration to this serious matter,” he told staff. “We appreciate that a change in leadership creates uncertainty, however, we are firmly of the view that this decision is in the best interests of the organisation.

“The board wishes to thank Michelle for her contribution to the ABC. We are very grateful for all her hard work.”

Guthrie had been the highest paid executive in ABC history with a salary of close to AU$1 million.

Photo credit: World Economic Forum