ABC TV boss Richard Finlayson quits

The ABC’s director of television Richard Finlayson is to quit the public service broadcaster after three-and-a-half years.

Richard Finlayson

Finlayson: Leaving the ABC in March

In a statement issued this afternoon, Finlayson said he had decided to leave the organisation after considering his options over Christmas.

His exit is the latest in what has become a turbulent time for the organisation since the arrival of new managing director Michelle Guthrie last April.

His departure is not a major surprise. Prior to Guthrie’s appointment, Finlayson, previously COO of SBS, had been seen as one of the contenders for the top job.

Finlayson has a track record which will make him an attractive recruitment target for a commercial media business or agency. Prior to being COO of SBS he spent four years leading its commercial operations. He also led acquisitions for pay TV operation XYZ Networks and spent seven years as running Cox Inall Communications, which included both a PR consultancy and a TV production house.

Since Guthrie, who worked for News Corp earlier in her career, joined, the organisation has seen a number of dramatic changes including the dropping of almost all music programs from Radio National. The staff for science TV show Catalyst were also axed.

During Guthrie’s first few months, The ABC also axed its opinion site The Drum.

In October she set out “equal digital life” as the new mantra for the organisation’s content strategy.

Last month ABC TV’s head of entertainment Jon Casimir – one of the creators of Gruen – resigned to work again with Andrew Denton.

Finlayson’s statement:

I have decided that after more than three very satisfying and rewarding years as Director of ABC TV, it is time to move on to the next stage of my career.

After a short break at Christmas I indicated to the Managing Director, Michelle Guthrie, that as I finalise my next venture we should begin arrangements for my departure.

It has been an honour and a privilege to serve our audiences and work with the best talent in the industry.  I am very confident I leave the business well positioned to succeed.

We have an outstanding slate of original programs across every genre that has won unprecedented recognition and is attracting major international interest. I am very proud of distinctive and quality programs like The Secret River, The Code and Cleverman that have gone to air during my time as Director.

Amid fierce competition, iview remains the number one TV VOD service in the country with more than 50 hours of brilliant, original shows as well two new Kids apps that are already loved by children and parents.

We have learned how to make valuable funds go further and have made tough decisions that are the seeds of future success within an industry that is undergoing rapid change.

Most of all, I’m proud of the incredible team in ABC TV that we have recruited, nurtured and developed. I know that the future of ABC TV and the national broadcaster is in highly capable hands.

I will be assisting Michelle on transition arrangements through to the end of March.



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