Newspaper man to tops Oz’s ABC

Scott new managing director

The Australian Broadcasting Corp. has named Mark Scott, former editorial director of the Fairfax newspaper group, as its new managing director.

The ABC has been without a topper since January, when Russell Balding ankled to head up Sydney Airport.

Scott, whose five-year term begins in July, comes to the pubcaster with virtually no broadcast experience, having spent most of his career in print media. He joined Fairfax in 1994 and also has worked as a policy adviser for the Conservative government.

In announcing the unanimous board decision, ABC chairman Donald McDonald stressed the pubcaster’s diversity as well as Scott’s “ability to respond to the challenges of a changing media environment.”

Balding, too, was criticized for his lack of broadcasting know-how, but he had worked at the ABC for six years before his appointment.

At Fairfax, Scott oversaw growth in the company’s online interests. The ABC’s online component is evolving, but it is the weak state of Aussie drama and the advent of multichanneling that will test the broadcaster in the coming years.

Pubcaster has been granted an additional A$88.2 million ($66.4 million) over the next three years to expand its Aussie drama lineup as well as its regional presence.

The Screen Producers Assn. of Australia welcomed Scott’s appointment, saying his editorial and managerial expertise should fit well with Kim Dalton’s production and broadcasting experience. Dalton, a former topper of the Australian Film Commission, was named head of television at the ABC in January.

Scott will take over at the start of the triennial funding agreement, which means a battle for government funding is still three years away.

“I am a great believer in a strong and robust national broadcaster,” Scott said. “It provides greater media choices for our audiences and can help create new markets through the innovative use of technology.”

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