Former ABC managing director Brian Johns was ‘a man ahead of his time’

ABC Logo 2015

ABC managing director Mark Scott has paid tribute to his predecessor Brian Johns, who has died after a long illness.

Johns ran the ABC from 1995 to 2000 after a career which began in newspapers, and later took in SBS, Penguin Books, Queensland University of Technology and the Copyright Agency.

Johns’ time at the helm coincided with the launch of ABC Online. He was succeeded by Jonathan Shier, who lasted less than two years in the role.

In a statement, Scott said he was “a man ahead of his time”.

The statement:

The ABC is very saddened to hear of the loss of Brian Johns after a long illness. He was a visionary Managing Director of the ABC and much of the work we still do is a direct result of the innovation he brought to the broadcaster.

He is remembered by ABC staff as a leader who steered the broadcaster through challenging times and positioned it for the digital age. He saw quite clearly that traditional broadcast platforms would converge and essentially future audiences would seek out and demand content when and where they needed it. He was a man ahead of his time. From Brian’s time as Managing Director we have ABC Online, the national edition of 730, the iconic Australian Story and the much lovedSea Change. Brian understood our duty as the home of Australian conversations and stories.

Outside of the ABC he was widely respected for his contributions to Australian cultural life as a journalist, publisher and media executive.

The ABC extends its condolences to Brian’s wife Sarah and his family and many friends.


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