Incoming ABC MD signals desire to look at ‘all options’ for monetising content

Michelle Guthrie

Guthrie: to look at all options for monetisation.

The incoming boss of the ABC has signalled a willingness to explore new avenues for the monetisation of content in an interview just one hour after being named in the role.

Speaking to ABC News 24 this morning Michelle Guthrie was asked if she would look to follow the lead of the BBC in ramping up advertising on overseas sites, replying: “My sense is that it is important on an overall basis, in budget constrained times, to really look at all options around monetisation.”

“It is pretty early to be able to make pronouncements,” she added. “It is very much about understanding what we could do and what that really means for our audiences both in Australia and internationally. 

The declaration comes at a time when the likes of the BBC being urged to look at paywall and other new revenue streams, while the British public broadcaster has carried ads on its websites in territories outside of the UK for several years.

The ABC is restricted from advertising on television, radio and digital media services in Australia, but not necessarily on channels to overseas audience.

Asked about a potential threat to the ABC’s independence Guthrie cited Australia Plus as an example of where the broadcaster had had successfully monetised its content.

“Internationally the Australia Plus does carry advertising,” she said. “So internationally we already have that example but it is way too early to be making any definitive pronouncements.”

Guthrie was also asked about suggestions that the managing director’s role and editor-in-chief’s role should be split.

The media executive responded:  “The important thing for me around the ABC is that sense of being an independent public broadcaster.

“I know there has been discussion around the editor-in-chief responsibility and certainly nothing is changing from Mark to me in terms of that ultimate responsibility for editorial.”

The former Google executive, who has already been criticised for her lack of editorial experience, also said she would continue to work with the board on the issue of editorial accountability.

“I know there are discussions going on at the board level (about this topic) and I know I will be working with the board in terms of how we best support that on an ongoing basis, particularly with the digital transformation,” she said.

Guthrie was also asked about criticism from Labor senator Sam Dastyari, that a senior executive from Google, a company known to have policies of aggressive tax minimisation, was being rewarded with the top position at the public broadcaster.

“At Google I am not responsible for finance or tax,” said Guthrie. “The Google team have spoken to people here to respond to these issues. I’m certainly not authorised or qualified to speak on behalf of Google on the issue but ultimately I’m looking forward to coming home and joining the ABC.”

Nic Christensen 


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