ABC’s Managing Director, Michelle Guthrie forced to step down halfway

  • Sep 24, 2018 AEST
  • Team Kalkine
ABC’s Managing Director, Michelle Guthrie forced to step down halfway

National Broadcaster ABC sacked managing director Michelle Guthrie halfway through her five-year term at the helm. Today morning, 24 September 2018, ABC Board informed staff by email that it has been decided to depart Ms Guthrie from her role as Managing Director of the ABC.

This move comes after many rounds of discussions by the board with the conclusion that continuing with Ms Guthrie was not in the best interests of ABC.

On the question what led to the decision, ABC Chairman Justin Milne highlighted that Ms Guthrie's "leadership style" has been a considerate factor. It was clarified that the decision takes care of the long-term interests of the people engaged with ABC content on a regular basis.

Michelle Guthrie said ABC’s shock decision to her departure is ‘devastating’. Ms Guthrie said she is considering the legal action against national broadcaster ABC as she believes her halfway termination was not justified. She has been in a state of shock by the Board's decision and defended the move with substantiation of no wrongdoing during her tenure. Further, Ms Guthrie intended to continue with the transformation of the group. She confidently mentioned that the board has no justification to trigger the termination clause of her agreement with the company.

When the board reports read that she was required to attend the workshop to help improve her performance, Ms Guthrie defended the statement and said that “at no point have any issues been raised with me about the transformation being undertaken, the Investing in Audiences strategy and my effectiveness in delivering against that strategy”

Besides being blamed for the leadership style, Ms Guthrie was accused of having involvement with government and sharing strong relationship with them which pose a considerate risk on the independency of broadcaster. Mr Milne said that he believes Ms Guthrie was trying hard and was involved with Australian government. He added that its difficult to maintain a right balance with the government because on one hand it may sacrifice the independency of ABC but on the other side healthy relationship with the government is important as it receives funds from the government.

He further clarified that there was no political pressure or government involvement in the decision pertaining to the departure of Ms. Guthrie.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison stated that the government does not seek an explanation from the ABC Board on Ms Guthrie removal as he considers it to be their independent decision. He said "I want to see an ABC that's strong and doing its job and that's well run. That's what the board is responsible for."

Ms Gurthrie has taken the helm in 2016 for her digital media expertise and she was reportedly said to be more focused on structures and platform of the media. In an acknowledgement to Ms Guthrie, Communications Minister Mitch Fifield thanked Ms Guthrie and acknowledged her significant contribution to a rapidly changing media environment.

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