ABC managing director Michelle Guthrie has been sacked just two-and-a-half years into her five-year term, the corporation’s chairman has said in a shock announcement.
The ABC said the directors resolved it was not in the best interests of the ABC for Ms Guthrie to continue to lead the organisation.
Chairman Justin Milne said the decision was made in the “long-term interests of our own people and the millions of Australians who engage with ABC content every week”.
Despite offering praise for some of Ms Guthrie’s work, Mr Milne said her “leadership style” was a factor in the board’s decision.
“The board felt in the end that her leadership style was not the style that we needed going forward,” he said.
“We needed a different leadership style and that is the decision of the board.”
He thanked Ms Guthrie for her hard work since taking the position in May 2016.
“The board wishes to thank Michelle for her contribution to the ABC,” Mr Milne said.
“We are very grateful for all her hard work.”
Communications Minister Mitch Fifield thanked Ms Guthrie, and said the Government acknowledged her service in a “challenging and rapidly changing media environment”.
A former Singapore-based executive with Google, Ms Guthrie was the ABC’s first female managing director.
She began her career as a media lawyer and has worked with a range of media companies in Australia and abroad, including Foxtel, BSkyB, and the Asian-based Star television network.
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David Anderson, the ABC’s director of entertainment and specialist, will serve as acting managing director until a formal search process finds Ms Guthrie’s successor.
Mr Anderson has a 30-year career in the media industry and has been responsible for leading the ABC’s broadcast television networks and associated services, radio music networks, podcasts and specialist radio content.
He said it was an honour to lead the corporation.
“I recognise the challenges involved in transitions of this kind, but I am honoured to accept the board’s invitation and look forward to working with our outstanding people to execute our strategy,” he said.
The ABC board has commenced a formal search, both internally and externally, for Ms Guthrie’s replacement.
ABC managing directors are selected by the board, independently of the government and opposition.