CANBERRA -- Senior Google executive Michelle Guthrie is "coming home" after being officially chosen to lead the ABC and is getting an early taste of the highly politicised and scrutinised role.
Singapore-based Guthrie was officially named Monday to replace outgoing Managing Director Mark Scott in May 2016 by ABC Chairman James Spigelman, who said she was “ideally credentialed to lead the national broadcaster in the digital era”.
Courtesy ABC News 24
The broadcasting and digital media executive quickly gave an interview to the ABC where she reaffirmed the ABC’s independence and editorial chain of command, while deferring questions about possible ABC paywalls and advertising.
“It is way too early for me to talking about any of that,” Guthrie told ABC News 24.
“Obviously my sense is that there is incredible content already available online.
“The current ABC charter talks about the restrictions in which we operate, or the environment in which we operate, and I'll continue to work within that charter and also in terms of what the audience really desires.”
The incoming ABC Managing Director will take over the $900,000-per-year job in May 2016, but get a month-long handover from Scott in April.
Scott is delighted she was chosen by the ABC Board; so too the Turnbull Government.
“Ms Guthrie has an impressive international broadcasting and business background having worked in senior executive roles with News International, Foxtel, Star TV, Providence Equity Partners and Google,” Communications Minister Mitch Fifield said in a statement.
“Ms Guthrie will be the first female Managing Director in the ABC’s history and her appointment to the ABC Board will mean there will be a majority of female members for the first time.”
But even before the official announcement, Guthrie was being tested by both side of politics.
Dumped Cabinet Minister Eric Abetz issued a press release headed "New ABC boss must stop lefty love-in”.
Describing the ABC as “engrossed in group think” and a “protection racket for the left ideology,” Abetz said “the new Managing Director has a big mess to clean up and I hope that they’re (sic) up to it".
But Labor also has concerns with ALP Senator Sam Dastyari critical of Google's role in minimising tax.
“At Google I'm not responsible for finance or tax,” Guthrie responded. “I'm certainly not authorised or qualified to speak on behalf on that issue.
“But ultimately I'm looking forward to coming home and joining the ABC.”
She declared she will work within the ABC Charter which demands political independence and as Managing Director, she will retain ultimate responsibility for all editorial content.
“The important thing for me around this ABC is that sense of being an independent public broadcaster rather than a State broadcaster,” Guthrie said.
“I think that's an important distinction.”
The Communications Minister has paid tribute to Scott, who has led the ABC since 2006 and said he is looking forward to working with Guthrie.