Outgoing ABC chief Michele Guthrie believes there is no justification for her termination as Managing Director of the ABC and is considering her legal options, according to a statement released today.

In the statement, Guthrie said she was “devastated” by the ABC Board’s decision to remove her today, roughly halfway through her five-year term, a move she says will cut short her ongoing transformation of the national broadcaster.

“I wanted to continue the transformation of the ABC and to support the great work of ABC’s dedicated and passionate employees to ensure our continuing trust, quality and distinctiveness as the source of Australian culture, conversation and stories,” Guthrie said.

Outgoing ABC chief Michele Guthrie

“To me, it is the content produced by the ABC that is of primary importance to Australians, with the technology use to deliver that content a distant second.”

Guthrie has been under fire from the Government, conservative media and her own staff recently. Communications Minister Mitch Fifield has been a constant source of attack towards the ABC in 2018 over the broadcaster’s political coverage while conservative media outlets have also ramped up their usual offensive towards the “biased” ABC. As these attacks intensified, Guthrie was also criticised by ABC staff for not standing up to critics and her lack of journalism experience.

Of the board’s decision, Guthrie says she has committed no wrongdoing and has “invested more in investigative journalism; more in regional journalism; more in innovative content; and increased the efficiency and effectiveness of work cross the ABC”.

No issues raised

According to Guthrie, “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.”

The ABC board, responsible for Guthrie’s termination, said their decision followed discussions “over several months and resolved that it was not in the best interests of the ABC for Ms Guthrie to continue to lead the organisation”.

“This decision has been driven by our commitment to deliver the best possible outcomes for our loyal audiences and the best possible experience for our own people,” said ABC board chairman Justin Milne.

“In resolving to seek fresh leadership, the Board’s foremost consideration was the long-term interests of our own people and the millions of Australians who engage with ABC content every week,” Milne said.

In television interview following the announcement of Guthrie’s termination, Milne refused to be drawn on the specific reasons for Guthrie’s removal.

“The details, the ins and outs of that decision, I’m not going to shares with you. And I’m not going to do that out of respect for Michelle and for all of the people that are involved,” Milne said when pressed by ABC News’ Joe Obrien.

The ABC Board has invited David Anderson to serve as Acting Managing Director until the role is filled on a permanent basis in coming months. Anderson is currently Director, Entertainment & Specialist, responsible for broadcast television networks and associated services, radio music networks, podcasts and specialist radio content. 

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