24 January 2024

Former News Corp boss to take up post as ABC chair

| Chris Johnson
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Kim Williams

Kim Williams will be the next ABC chairperson. Photo: Melbourne University Press.

Former News Limited (now News Corp) CEO Kim Williams will replace Ita Buttrose as the new ABC chairperson.

Ms Buttrose’s term at the helm of the national broadcaster ends in March and she indicated last year she would not seek another.

Anthony Albanese announced on Wednesday (24 January) that he had recommended the Governor-General appoint Mr Williams to chair the ABC board.

“Kim Williams … shares a life experience and a breadth of capacity that he will bring to this role,” the Prime Minister said.

“That is similar to why Ita Buttrose was chosen for that job by the former government – a choice that we accepted and supported …

“I have consulted as required with Peter Dutton as Leader of the Opposition about this appointment and I thank him for his engagement in the process.”

Mr Albanese described Mr Williams as “perfect” for the role.

“It’s almost as if he were made for it,” the PM said.

“He is much at home running media companies as he is running arts organisations and, indeed, former AFL commissioner, so engaged in sport as well.

“There aren’t too many Australians I can think of who have both studied composition in Italy and been an AFL Commissioner. Kim is a true renaissance man.

“The breadth of his experience is matched by its depth. And his intellect, his energy, and his insatiable curiosity of all [things] meant that he’s been able to devote himself to a great diversity of passions.

“He, of course, has led news organisations including News Corp. He has been involved in sporting organisations, but many, many arts organisations, including those engaged in music and the theatre.”

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The Prime Minister described Ms Buttrose as a “champion” and thanked her for her work as the ABC chair.

Communications Minister Michelle Rowland was even more forthcoming with praise for the outgoing chairperson.

“Ms Buttrose is a giant of the media and business worlds,” the Minister said.

“She has shown steady leadership for five years. She’s maintained a strong defence of the ABC’s independence.

“She was the right chair for the right time.”

Mr Williams is currently chair of Thomson Reuters Founders Share Company, co-chair of the State Library of NSW Foundation Board and director of Stradivarius Pty Ltd.

He has held a number of CEO positions across the creative industries, including the Australian Film Commission, Southern Star Entertainment, Fox Studios Australia, Foxtel, and NewsCorp Australia.

His previous non-executive positions have included chair of the Copyright Agency, the Sydney Opera House Trust, the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, the Australian Film Finance Corporation, Musica Viva Australia, the Richard Gill School, deputy chair of the NSW State Conservatorium of Music, and AFL Commissioner.

In 2006, Mr Williams was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia for his services to the arts, film, and television industries.

Appearing with the Prime Minister for the announcement on Wednesday (24 January), Mr Williams said the role of ABC chairperson was a “solemn responsibility” guided by the ABC Charter and with a requirement for collegiality.

“The charter is often invoked but rarely read and the charter is a refreshingly broad statement as to the responsibilities,” he said.

“It speaks to the cultural diversity of Australia; it speaks to the responsibility to national identity in the process of informing and entertaining the nation.

“It speaks to the necessity of being innovative and comprehensive in the approach that is taken across all of the delivery methodologies of digital media, broadcasting on television, and radio, and clearly in a lot of written information.

“It also has international responsibilities, education responsibilities, and, of course, an array of responsibilities in relation to what I described charmingly in the act as ‘the musical and dramatic and other arts’.

“I certainly think giving life to those responsibilities is one of the great enduring challenges in Australia. And it’s a privilege to do so.”

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The incoming chair also delivered a message to the ABC’s editorial workforce.

“I think at the core of all journalism at the ABC is the imperative of being absolutely verifiably independent, offering at all times true journalistic integrity and to the extent possible in human affairs having an aspiration to freedom from bias,” he said.

Mr Williams was nominated for appointment by the independent Nomination Panel as part of the merit-based appointment process for the ABC and SBS boards.

The position is part-time for five years, with remuneration set by the Remuneration Tribunal.

Legislation requires that the Leader of the Opposition be consulted as part of the appointment process.

Original Article published by Chris Johnson on Riotact.

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