Television Business International

ABC television chief exits

Richard Finlayson has resigned from his post as director of television at Australian public broadcaster the ABC.

Richard FinlaysonThe shock moves comes after rumours emerged over his future, and brings to an end his three-year tenure as the ABC’s top television executive.

The ABC’s managing director, Michelle Guthrie, who succeeded Mark Scott nearly nine months ago, is reportedly planning a major shake-up of the TV division.

“I have decided that after more than three very satisfying and rewarding years as director of ABC TV, it is time to move on to the next stage of my career,” said Finlayson in a statement.

“After a short break at Christmas I indicated to the managing director, Michelle Guthrie, that as I finalise my next venture we should begin arrangements for my departure.”

During his time, the ABC has commissioned series such as The Code and Cleverman, and built its on-demand service, iView, into a top local VOD player.

The spell ran to a backdrop of significant cuts to the ABC programming budget and staff, as the pubcaster wrestled to bring its finances in line with government guidelines.

“Amid fierce competition, iView remains the number one TV VOD service in the country with more than 50 hours of brilliant, original shows as well two new Kids apps that are already loved by children and parents,” he said.

“We have learned how to make valuable funds go further and have made tough decisions that are the seeds of future success within an industry that is undergoing rapid change.”

Finlayson’s resignation comes after the departures of digital networks chief Angela Clark and international boss Lynley Marshall.

His exit also comes nearly a year after the exits of fiction chief Carole Sklan and children’s TV chief Deidre Brennan, who left for Corus Entertainment in Canada before this week being named general manager of US cable channel Sprout.

Former BBC Children’s, Hit Entertainment and Zodiak Kids Studios content chief Michael Carrington has since replaced Brennan, while Sally Riley was promoted head of scripted programming to replace Sklan.

Last year also saw a restructure that handed Rebecca Heap a powerful new role as head of audience and digital.