ABC confirms acting MD David Anderson as managing director

David Anderson, acting managing director of the ABC, has been confirmed as MD of the national broadcaster, an appointment which will see him hold the role for at least the next five years.

Anderson stepped in as the ABC’s acting managing director after the shock dismissal of Michelle Guthrie in September last year. Guthrie’s firing triggered a chain of events that saw then chairman Justin Milne step down after accusations of editorial interference a week later and replaced by media stalwart Ita Buttrose as chair in January this year.

Newly appointed ABC managing director David Anderson with chair Ita Buttrose

The internal appointment comes despite the ABC commissioning global recruitment agency Spencer Stuart to carry out an international search for a new MD.

Under the ABC act, Anderson will have ultimate responsibility for all editorial content and his five year appointment can be renewed by a future board.

Anderson is an ABC careerist, having joined in the national broadcaster in 1989 in a job he described as “below level one. It had its own special rating of ‘UA’, which was really just code for ‘other’. My first job was changing tea towels in kitchenettes, sorting the mail – but not in front of ABC staff.”

Despite Anderson’s humble start at the ABC, he progressed to hold director roles at the organisation which included television, strategy and planning. Following his appointment as director of digital network in 2016 he led the organisation’s digital transformation efforts.

Before stepping into the role of vacated by Guthrie last year, Anderson had also served as the director of entertainment & specialist, a position that saw him responsible for all ABC radio music networks along with broadcast television networks and on-demand products and services.

In announcing the appointment, Buttrose said: “Mr Anderson is an exceptional media professional with strong content, digital and strategic experience.

“The ABC Board resolved unanimously to appoint David Anderson following a national and international search that produced many impressive candidates.

“With almost 30 years of service, David’s knowledge of the ABC is unsurpassed. He has a deep understanding of audience needs and the Board is confident he has the skills and ability to respond to the challenges of a changing media environment.

“We believe he is the right person to lead the Corporation at this time. David already enjoys the trust and confidence of the ABC leadership team and staff and he is ideally placed to continue to provide strong leadership and direction.”

Anderson added: “It is a privilege to be appointed to the role, overseeing one of Australia’s most loved and respected cultural institutions.

“I look forward to continuing to lead the ABC and allowing our talented teams to get on with what the ABC does best: serving the Australian people, delivering Australia’s finest agenda-setting news and current affairs, hosting conversations and telling stories that look and sound like Australia.”


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