ABC managing director David Anderson wins another term

The ABC has reappointed managing director David Anderson for another five-year term, with the national broadcaster extending his contract until mid-2028 in a bid for stability as it pushes ahead with a new five-year plan.

The decision to reappoint Anderson, which has not been publicly announced, was finalised by the ABC board earlier this year, with the Communications Minister Michelle Rowland writing to chair Ita Buttrose in May to confirm the proposal.

ABC managing director David Anderson during a Senate estimates hearing at Parliament House in Canberra.
ABC managing director David Anderson during a Senate estimates hearing at Parliament House in Canberra. Credit: Alex Ellinghausen

“I am pleased to advise you that on 18 April 2023, the Government approved the ABC Board’s proposal to reappoint Mr David Anderson as ABC managing director for a period of 5 years commencing 1 July 2023,” a letter seen by this masthead read.

On Tuesday this week, Rowland revealed that Buttrose, 81, would not seek a second term as chairperson.

With Anderson’s new term commencing on July 1, it means Buttrose’s successor will not be required to appoint a new managing director until the final year of their tenure.

The reappointment was made to maintain stability and continuity within the ABC, with Anderson having spearheaded the broadcaster’s new five-year plan, according to a senior source with direct knowledge of the decision.

Anderson was appointed by Buttrose in 2019, two months after she was confirmed as the broadcaster’s chair. At the time he was serving as acting managing director.

Buttrose’s term is set to expire on March 6, while Anderson’s was to have expired two months later on May 5, 2024.


Two senior sources with direct knowledge of the matter said the board voted in favour of Anderson’s early reappointment, a decision made prior to the publicly announced new five-year plan in June.

The five-year plan emphasised digital processes as a priority over traditional broadcasting, with up to 120 roles being made redundant including that of political editor Andrew Probyn.

Anderson has been at the ABC his entire career, first joining in 1989 in Adelaide. He narrowly missed out on the role in late 2015 when Google executive Michelle Guthrie was appointed, joining in May 2016. (Guthrie later clashed with then chairman Justin Milne and they both ultimately left the organisation.)

In 2019, Anderson was confirmed as a permanent replacement for Guthrie after her sacking, having been acting managing director for seven months during an extensive recruitment process.

Rowland’s office refused to confirm the minister’s office had been made aware of the decision to re-appoint Anderson months ago.

Acting Communications Minister Mark Dreyfus, standing in for Rowland while she is overseas, said “the appointment of the ABC managing director is a matter for the ABC board”.

“Questions about the tenure of the managing director should be directed to the ABC.”

The ABC declined to comment on his reappointment.

Before taking on the top job, Anderson was director of entertainment and specialist content, having spent three decades across the ABC’s television, strategy and digital departments.

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