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SBS chairman Nihal Gupta resigns suddenly for ‘personal reasons’ after turbulent year

Resigned: SBS chairman Nihal Gupta

Resigned: SBS chairman Nihal Gupta

Under-fire SBS Chairman Nihal Gupta has resigned from the role he has held for little over a year citing “personal family reasons”.

Gupta has been a controversial figure since taking charge with the Labor Party calling for his dismissal from the role last year after an investigation by The Australian suggested he may have misled the panel which appointed him.

He landed the job in October 2014 beating out candidates including former NSW Premier Nick Greiner, but at a Senate hearing last March he refused to answer questions over whether he had misled then Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull about his business experience. 

The SBS board of directors and the chairman are appointed by the government.

According to reports in The Australian Gupta had told the appointment panel his main business Digital Electronics Corporation Ausatralian (DECA) had 200 employees, when he was in fact the only full-time employee.

In a short statement released today he said: “It has been a privilege to chair SBS and I wish the organisation all the best for the future.”

The Board comprises non-executive directors, Dr Bulent Hass Dellal AO (Deputy Chair), Michael Ebeid (managing director), Peeyush Gupta, Patricia Azarias, Jacqueline Hey, Daryl Karp, Dorothy West and William Lenehan.

Deputy Chair Dr Dellal said on behalf of the board: “The SBS Board understands and fully respects Mr Gupta’s decision. We thank Mr Gupta for his valuable contribution to SBS and wish him well.”

SBS Logo 2015Dellal will act as chairman of the board until the government undertakes a process to appoint a new chair.

His resignation also comes 24-hours after outgoing ABC managing director Mark Scott suggested SBS should be rolled into the ABC after the government cut funding to both of them.

Scott told a Senate Estimates Committee: “SBS was created well before digitisation and well before digital television … it’s an analogue solution in a digital world.

“I suspect that the SBS of today, which is more general interest broadcasting, means the distinction between the two broadcasters is not as (strong) as it once was,” he said.

However SBS hit back saying: “SBS’s sole focus is on continuing to provide unique services to multicultural Australia at a time when inspiring a greater understanding of the value of multiculturalism has never been more important,” said the spokeswoman.

“Our audiences are up 11 per cent and we are using digital technology in a way that no other broadcaster can to reach multicultural communities, with more multilingual content that at any time in our history across all platforms – TV, radio, online and via digital services.”

According to the SBS site Gupta is also chair of the chairman of the NSW Multicultural Business Advisory Panel, Deputy Chairman of the National Aboriginal Islander Skills Development Association (NAISDA) Foundation Limited, board member of the Asia Society Australia, an appointee to the Judicial Commission of NSW, Trustee of the Board of Sydney Cricket and Sports Ground Trust and board member of Parramasala, an international contemporary arts festival that celebrates the global impact of Asian arts and cultures.

Alex Hayes

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