Shier ankles b’cast post

Tenure marred by staff rows

SYDNEY — Jonathan Shier has ankled his post as managing director of the Australian Broadcasting Corp. Wednesday, just 19 months into a five-year term.

Shier’s tenure was marred by staff rows, a revolving door of senior execs, at least two public rallies demanding his resignation, flagging ratings and political debate ahead of the Nov. 10 federal election.

Ruling Liberal Party politicians, including Prime Minister John Howard, repeatedly supported the managing director, but opposition politicians called for the ABC board to act on the worst crisis in the corporation’s history. The staff union has been campaigning for Shier’s resignation since December. The exec, a former topper at the U.K.’s Thames television web and one-time Liberal Party staffer, resigned at a monthly meeting of the pubcaster’s board.

He stated it was important for an MD to lead a united corporation, and as this was no longer the case, the ABC’s interests would be best served by his resignation.

Mid-October, ABC chairman Donald McDonald refused to back Shier after the exec verbally attacked news topper Max Uechtritz for failing to heed the ratings following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in the U.S.

Public and private rows with staffers and execs was a signature Shier leadership technique that, over time, eroded support among his hand-picked senior execs. Five ankled with hefty pay-outs from the cash-strapped pubcaster.

Shier will remain at ABC until Dec. 31 to assist with the launch of the new international service, ABC Asia Pacific; the introduction of a new digital TV channel; and the transition to a new managing director. He refused to disclose details of any pay-out.

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