Michelle Guthrie worked with Lachlan Murdoch (L) and took over James Murdoch’s job at the age of 38.
Australia’s ABC has a new head, Michele Guthrie, replacing Mark Scott — with a whopping salary. Go figure!
Personally I see Ms Guthrie’s appointment to this important job as strange and incompatible with ABC’s charter.
Let us look at her past.
She completed a Bachelor of Arts and Law degree (Second Class Hon) in 1988 in Sydney, then was Admitted to Practice in NSW.
Her work history:
1989 – 1994 Allen Allen & Hemsley (in Singapore and Sydney).
1994 – 1998 News Corporation Corporate Counsel, News International/British Sky Broadcasting (Murdoch owned).
1998 – 2000 Foxtel Director, Legal & Business Development (Murdoch owned).
2001 – 2007 Star TV (Murdoch owned), and taking over from James Murdoch to become CEO. She oversaw an attempt to bypass Chinese media ownership restrictions through a backdoor TV venture for Rupert Murdoch. This venture failed for News Corp when the Chinese wised-up to its audacious bid. Guthrie left soon after.
2007 – 2010 Providence Equity Partners, Hong Kong. (Worked with Lachlan Murdoch)
2011 – 2015 Google Asia Pacific
But the Friends of the ABC has welcomed the announcement of Guthrie as the first woman to head the National Broadcaster.
“The appointment… should provide the ABC with a fresh approach…”
And what did the National Spokesperson for ABC Friends — Margaret Reynolds — have to say? Only that
“…recent undermining of the ABC by its critics had coincided with severe government financial cutbacks that had restricted the national broadcaster’s capacity to fully implement its charter obligations…
“(And so)the first task of the new Managing Director would be to restore government confidence in the ABC.” What!!!!
The Hollywood Reporter reports on Guthrie’s long career trajectory at various News Corp-owned and -managed entities, saying:
“She also worked with Lachlan Murdoch at Providence Equity Partners on an aborted bid for Murdoch friend, James Packer’s, private company, Consolidated Press.”
Fairfax media chief executive of the Knowledge Society, Elena Douglas, is quoted as saying:
“She knows James. She knows Lachlan. She knows Rupert… They’ve been colleagues. She just knows where they are coming from. That’s all.”
But Guthrie has said the national broadcaster should remain independent from both commercial and government interests. [We hope so.] She told ABC’s 24-hour news channel that:
“Having the role as being a true independent public broadcaster and being able to really deliver fantastic content across platforms, across digital, mobile, television, radio, to all Australians is extraordinary and my hope is that I can really contribute to the organization.”
Interestingly, ABC Online does not mention News Corp or Murdoch. They head up the announcement with: Google executive Michelle Guthrie to replace Mark Scott as ABC managing director, and…
“She brings to the ABC her business expertise, international contacts, record in content-making across an array of platforms, a deep understanding of audience needs and corporate responsibility for promoting issues like diversity.”
The Australian (a Murdoch paper) is naturally glowing:
“She’s very competent, has a very sharp mind,” former Foxtel (Murdoch) chief executive Jim Bloomfield says. “She knows her way around media very well.” [Too well?]
“She’s a very decent and honest person as well,” New York-based former News Corp (Murdoch) executive Andrew Butcher notes. “You don’t always get smart and capable as well as decent and honest in the media.” [Well, that’s true, you don’t.]
Another former colleague notes that Guthrie’s experience at Foxtel (Murdoch), BSkyB (Murdoch), STAR TV (Murdoch) in Hong Kong, private equity firm Providence Equity Partners and as Asia-Pacific managing director of relationships for Google ticks many of the boxes required by the “innovative” Turnbull government.
Call me a conspiracy theorist, but you don’t have close relations with the Murdochs — be their Corporate Counsel, take over James’s job, and later work with Lachlan — without it influencing your corporate life thereafter.
These upper echelon jobs work through revolving doors and “pass the parcel.”
I am reminded of the brilliant scene with Don Vito Corleone in The Godfather when Bonasera asks for his help to organise some justice for his daughter. Don Corleone replies:
“…Someday, and that day may never come, I’ll call upon you to do a service for me [a favour]. But until that day, accept this justice as a gift on my daughter’s wedding day.”
We know that the ABC is under pressure from both the government and Murdoch’s empire. But the so-called “independent” broadcaster is, and has been, controlled by powers above it. For example, the ABC will not broadcast the evidence of crimes like 9-11 and the like — and continues to propagate the neocon mainstream narratives. Yesterday I heard Christopher Brooks on 774 talk-back radio explaining that “ISIS” and the Syrian opposition factions are significantly the child of Western powers and their crony collaborators. His arguement was quickly dismissed as a “conspiracy theory.”
The Appointment of the ABC managing director
I wonder who the other candidates were?
I surmise that Ms Guthrie has been “anointed” to her position at the ABC (by persuasive powers beyond the Broadcaster).
I believe (whether Ms Guthrie is aware of it or not at this stage), that her appointment is a step toward the designated end of the independence of the National Broadcaster.
But the Friends of the ABC are delighted by the appointment of a woman. It reminds me the euphoria when the first black US President was “elected.” Obama was a wolf in sheep’s clothing — put there to push through legislation like The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) to benefit multinationals.
There are several options ahead for the ABC:
Make it look and sound more like a commercial station (to compete with the other monopolistic nonsense that is the mainstream media); end the independence of SBS and the ABC and merge them into one mega-organisation; eliminate the alternative voices; control the “leftie” noise, and then finally sell parts of the ABC off to private enterprise (e.g. the news).
I bet you there are executives in boardrooms already working on an “audacious” documentation that sounds acceptable to the masses. I can rattle it off myself:
“Selling parts of the ABC will be 1) good for the budget bottom line, 2) create industry competition, 3) improve diversity, 4) provide a better service to the public, 5) it will therefore be able to maintain independence from government, and 6) easily manageable (controllable).”
And the Murdoch empire (sorry, the CIA) is probably overseeing the detail.
I do hope I am wrong.
Ms Guthrie was part of an “audacious bid” (for Murdoch) to bypass China’s media restrictions. Is she happy with her past endeavors? And what is her red line now as the vultures circle?
I wonder if this question was asked in her interview: “Is there any conflict of interest, past, present or future, seeing that you had intimate knowledge of the workings and mission of Murdoch’s empire, and considering that you worked in many prominent positions over a long period of time for News Corp?”