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ABC names Google executive Michelle Guthrie as managing director

After days of speculation the ABC has confirmed it has appointed Google executive Michelle Guthrie as its new managing director.

Guthrie to take the reins of the ABC in April.

Guthrie to take the reins of the ABC in April.

The move comes a week after the Australian Financial Review first reported that Guthrie, who is currently managing director of agencies at Google Asia based in Singapore, was set to get the nod, replacing Mark Scott who will step down mid next year after a decade in the role.

In a statement ABC chair Jim Spigelman said Guthrie, the first woman to hold the role, was ideally credentialed to lead the public broadcaster in the digital era.

He said: “The ABC Board made this appointment following a thorough local and international search that produced an outstanding field of candidates. Michelle is an exceptional media professional with strong content, operational and board experience within internationally-respected media companies.

“Michelle brings a unique local and global view to the role, having grown up in Sydney and worked at senior levels here and around the world. She brings to the ABC her business acumen, record in content-making across an array of platforms, a deep understanding of audience needs and corporate responsibility for promoting issues like diversity.”

Guthrie is a former CEO of Star TV in Asia, a role she took over from James Murdoch. Before that she had stints at Foxtel and BSkyB in senior legal roles. 

She will join the ABC in early April for a month-long handover with Scott and receive a salary package of $900,000 a year. She will retain ultimate responsibility for all editorial content, as specified in the ABC Act, despite a push from some in government and on the right of politics to split the MD and editor-in-chief’s role.

Some outlets such as The Australian has already criticised Guthrie’s lack of editorial experience and urged that the roles be spilt. 

Guthrie said it was an honour to be chosen by the ABC Board to serve as the next managing director.

“Having grown up with the ABC and having been a professional observer of it over the last three decades, I have profound respect for the important role the national broadcaster plays throughout Australia and internationally,” Ms Guthrie said

“I would also like to acknowledge the leadership provided by Mark Scott during his tenure as managing director. It is fortunate that I will be able to work closely with him during the handover next year.”

The appointment comes after months of speculation about the appointment with a field of contenders touted including Sky News boss Angelos Frangopoulos, former CEO of News Corp Kim William, ABC TV boss Richard Finlayson and Screen Australia board member Deanna Weir.

Nic Christensen 

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