Kim Williams, Former News Corp. Executive, Set as Chair of Publicly-Owned Australian Broadcasting Corp.

Media and entertainment veteran Kim Williams is to be appointed the next chairperson of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, the Australian federal prime minister Anthony Albanese’s office announced on Wednesday.

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Williams takes over from the departing Ita Buttrose and will have a five-year mandate. He joins at a moment when the ABC is enduring a moment of editorial turbulence. The public broadcaster has recently been criticized for its coverage of the war in Palestine.

On Monday, union members passed a vote of no confidence in the ABC’s MD David Anderson “for failing to defend the integrity of the ABC and its staff from outside attacks.” The ABC’s Buttrose-headed board hit back on Tuesday with a unanimous vote of confidence in Anderson.

“Williams has extensive experience across the screen, music, sports and media industries, and has made eminent and substantial contributions to the cultural life of the nation. He is currently chair of Thomson Reuters Founders Share Company, co-chair of the State Library of NSW Foundation board and director of Stradivarius Pty.” the government said.

Best known for his years at News Corp. companies, Williams has was previously chief executive at the Australian Film Commission, Southern Star Entertainment, Fox Studios Australia, pay-TV group Foxtel and NewsCorp Australia. Previous non-executive positions have included chair of the Copyright Agency, the Sydney Opera House Trust, the Sydney Symphony Orchestra and the Australian Film Finance Corporation.

“The ABC plays an essential role in Australia – it’s a pillar of our democracy, a lifeline in disaster, a voice for the regions and part of our cultural identity. It’s vital our national broadcaster has a safe and experienced pair of hands at the helm – and that’s what Kim will provide, said Albanese.

Federal Minister for Communications Michelle Rowland said: “[Williams] has shown a commitment to independence, to innovation and to best practice governance. We are confident [Williams] will bring strong leadership and focus to the ABC board, which is why he is being recommended to the Governor-General for this important role.”

She added, “Ita Buttrose was the right chair for the right time, and we wish her well for the future.”

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