Aussie pubcaster ABC taps Shier

TV vet named managing director

SYDNEY — Providing a surprising end to a five-month search for a managing director, Australian TV and radio pubcaster the Australian Broadcasting Corp. has tapped Jonathan Shier, an expatriate Australian who has worked in European commercial TV for 20 years, for the post.

Easily Oz’s biggest importer of British fare, via deals with the BBC and Channel 4, the ABC has spent the last two years reeling from deep budget cuts imposed by the conservative federal government, which accuses the ABC of being biased against it.

The Melbourne-born 52-year-old Shier takes up the post in March, replacing Brian Johns, who was appointed by the former Labor government and has been on the outs since the conservatives won office in 1996.

European experience

For the past two years, Shier was the London and Stockholm-based commercial director of MTG-TV3, Scandinavia’s and the Baltic’s largest TV network and feevee provider, having spent the preceding three years as Central European chief executive of Nethold, which was acquired by Canal Plus. He was with London’s Thames TV from 1985 to 1993, and started his TV career in 1977 at Scottish TV, where he became sales and marketing director.

Show of unity

In a rare show of unity, the government and opposition Labor and Democratic parties welcomed Shier’s appointment, but some employee unions were concerned at his lack of pubcasting experience.

Meantime, George Brown, managing director and chief exec of Prime TV will quit mid-December. Prime is the rural Oz affiliate of Kerry Stokes’ Seven Network and has a start-up New Zealand web.