Oz pubcaster ankles after budget battles

Balding will become CEO at Sydney Airport Corp

SYDNEY — Australian Broadcasting Corp. topper Russell Balding has quit a year before his five-year contract is due to expire.

Balding, who has been at the pubcaster for 10 years and has been managing director since 2002, will become CEO at the Sydney Airport Corp.

He will leave in March after working on the triennial funding submission to government. The three-year agreement, which outlines the pubcaster’s coin needs, ends in 2006.

Balding has constantly battled for coin, the need for which has often been blamed for the pubcaster’s sharp fall in local drama, but has had few wins.

He fell afoul of pols after the conservative government accused the pubcaster of liberal bias during its reporting of the Iraq War.

Despite this political stand off, Prime Minister John Howard has vowed not to interfere in the appointment of a new topper.

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