Guthrie considering legal options following 'devastating' dismissal

Josh McDonnell
By Josh McDonnell | 24 September 2018
Michelle Guthrie

UPDATE: A "devastated" Guthrie is threatening legal action against the ABC following the announcement she would be terminated. See full statement from Guthrie below.

After a tumultuous 12 months for the ABC, the public broadcaster has announced that current managing director Michelle Guthrie will exit the business.

According to the ABC, the decision followed discussions over several months that concluded when directors resolved that it was not in the best interests of the ABC for Guthrie to continue to lead the organisation.

Guthrie, who had been with the broadcaster since 2015, will be replaced by the current director of entertainment and specialist, David Anderson, until a replacement can be found.

It had been rumoured that tension between ABC chairman Justin Milne and Guthrie was causing major issues within the broadcaster, with both higher-ups clashing on multiple issues, according to The Australian.

“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 says.

“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.

“We understand that transitions can be disruptive in the short-term, however, the ABC is fortunate to have an experienced and capable executive team that will provide continuity in the months ahead."

In an interview with the ABC this morning, Milne refused to comment on the exact reasons behind Guthrie's dismissal, reinforcing that the decision was based on "leadership style".

The sudden exit follows mounting tensions between commercial media companies and the ABC.

The ABC was also outed today by Fairfax for running ads on its YouTube channel, despite restrictions in place that prevent the broadcaster from having ads on its own channels.

The likes of News Corp, Fairfax and Nine don't believe the ABC should be using taxpayer money to boost content on platforms like Facebook and Google.

It was recently revealed the ABC spends $2 million on Facebook and Google promotions per year to compete with its commercial rivals. The public broadcaster this year launched a lifestyle platform, which was harshly critcised.

ABC presenter Jaunita Phillips and 4Corners executive producer Sally Neighbour also weighed in on the decision, with the latter labelling the decision and "excellent" one.

The ABC has also has been under heavy fire this year with the Liberal Party making a push for the business to become privatised, while the broadcaster was also rocked by major budget cuts.

Guthrie fired back at the Liberal Party in May, shooting down the suggestion that the national broadcaster should be privatised.

Guthrie highlighted that the commercialisation of the ABC would put greater pressures on the other major networks, labelling a privatised ABC as an "advertising behemoth", adding that it was a poor stance to take by the Liberal government.

Guthrie has issued a statement about her termination saying that she is "devastated" and is threatening legal action.

guthrie statement

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