Harold Mitchell has sent some pointed comments Michelle Guthrie’s way, via an opinion piece in Fairfax.
The Free TV chairman, whose lobby group represents commercial Free to Air networks, first congratulated ABC for the Four Corners report which led to a Royal Commission.
“The dreadful treatment of youth in detention has been known to many for some time but it took a television program to turn the nation upside down and a good job that it has,” he wrote.
“But it does make me wonder if Michelle Guthrie, the new ABC managing director who comes most recently from Google, really understands the power and the breadth of the ABC as it currently stands. It was unfortunate timing that in the Four Corners week and in her first major speech since taking the helm, she said that ABC has captured the hearts and minds of every pre-school and aged care facility. Presumably she believes it was missing many others,” he continued.
Backhanded compliment much?
Yes Ms. Guthrie had noted her desire to have ABC resonate with more Australians than kids and older viewers, in her speech last week. It was one of many observations and hints at future directions.
At least by article’s end he lent support to the broadcaster.
“I think the ABC is value for money, just as FreeTV after 60 years is still winning.”
Meanwhile Free TV comes in for its own serve today in a piece in the Australian Financial Review, which notes it is yet to find a replacement for CEO Julie Flynn who retired last week, having given plenty of notice.
“Flynn announced her intention to depart five months ago, yet word on the street is that Korn Ferry – the headhunters appointed to find her replacement – are still a long way off from identifying her successor,” it wrote.
“The problem, it seems, is that the good folk at the redoubtable Katie Lahey’s Korn Ferry shop are more used to finding CEOs than government relations trench warriors.
“But when the feelers go out for a recruitment firm from the leadership of organisations like Free TV – stacked as it is with media CEOs – there’s a certain amount of back-scratching that goes on. We give you this contract, you keep us in mind next time there’s a big gig in a suitable (read: structurally less-challenged) industry.”