ABC Friends says potential board seat for efficiency review author Peter Lewis ‘highly inappropriate’

Screen Shot 2014-09-08 at 11.01.41 amAction group ABC Friends has said it would be “highly inappropriate”  for the former chief financial officer of Seven West Media and Efficiency Review author Peter Lewis to get a place on the board of the public broadcaster.

Mumbrella revealed on Friday Lewis, who authored the recent efficiency review of both the ABC and SBS, is understood to have been shortlisted among three names given to the Minister for Communications Malcolm Turnbull to be put before cabinet to fill the current vacancy on the board, after putting himself forward for the role.

“It would be improper and highly inappropriate if Mr Lewis were appointed to the ABC Board,” said Glenys Stradijot, ABC Friends National spokesperson said in a statement, claiming that Lewis would have a conflict of interest.

“Mr Lewis’s appointment earlier this year to conduct the Government’s efficiency review of the ABC lacked propriety, given his recent employment has been in senior roles with media companies that are competitors of the ABC. It would be totally unacceptable for someone with such a clear conflict of interest to be appointed to the public broadcaster’s governing board.

“ABC Board appointments are meant to be based on merit and made with respect for the ABC’s independence. The appointment to the country’s foremost cultural institution of Mr Lewis, whose expertise is in commercial media finance, would send a chilling message to the community about the ABC’s future.”

Representatives of the Minister for Communications, the ABC and Lewis all declined to comment on the statement by the ABC Friends.

The appointment is being keenly watched after the Coalition named culture warriors Janet Albretchsen and Neil Brown on the nomination panel for board members of the ABC and SBS. Mumbrella revealed Albretchsen was under consideration for the role in July, a move which saw the announcement of the controversial appointment moved up.

Despite her status as a former ABC board member Albretchsen’s appointment has been a lightning rod for criticism for defenders of the ABC, given her ongoing criticisms of the public broadcaster and its managing director Mark Scott.

“Furthermore, it would be widely viewed as a further step by the Government to impose its agenda on the ABC and as a reward to Mr Lewis for having devised how the ABC should be cut,” said Stradijot.

Nic Christensen 


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