An anonymous subscriber is having trouble
matching the CV of broadcasting’s new chief watchdog, Chris Chapman, with all
the nice things that have been said about his appointment (Crikey on Monday, for
example).

“He has relevant and diverse
skills in broadcasting and telecommunications, as well as extensive
legal,
financial and management expertise,” said Senator Coonan on his
appointment as chairman of the Australian Communications and Media
Authority.

“His significant experience will
assist ACMA as it faces many challenges in the next few years from the rapid
technological changes taking place in television, radio and other forms of the
media.”

Well, yes, maybe. But you could also
form the opinion that Mr Chapman has had extensive experience with companies
that encounter difficulties. You might think he is rather unlucky in some of
his employment options and that he has departed quite a number of positions. Not
that there’s anything wrong with that – everyone seems to have been let go once
or twice these days.

You could also listen to rumours that this is, of course, a political appointment and the field of
politically acceptable candidates with any sort of qualifications was rather
small. And sceptical types might even think
there’s an automatic question mark over anyone that the free-to-air TV lobby is
happy to have as its watchdog.

To summarise some of our subscriber’s correspondence, Chapman rose in the Channel 7
ranks as Chris Skase’s man in Brisbane, but lost out to Gary Rice when Kerry Stokes took
control of the network. (Rice himself didn’t last long as Stokes has been
through a few senior executives before settling on his current team.)

Then Mr Chapman’s time as CEO of
Stadium Australia came to a rather abrupt halt that may or may not have
had something to do with the banks realising the company was
broke.

He had two years running [email protected]
which failed as so many dot bombs did. And then there was the job of Prime
Infrastructure CEO when Dalrymple Bay became something of an icon of infrastructure not working as it might. But
yes, there were many factors involved in that.

And now he is leaving the mini-MacBank, Babcock and Brown, for what is by their standards a miserable little
salary. Top flight executives who’ve made millions sometimes go into public
service “to give something back” e.g. ACCC boss Graeme Samuel, but has Chris
Chapman picked up millions along such a path?

Chapman does seem to have been unlucky
in some of his career choices. Do readers have any examples of further
misfortune?

In his favour, Chapman seems to have
some enthusiasm for broadcasting, which is a nice change from Professor Flint
and the ex-judge who was another rumoured contender. That enthusiasm might stem
from the fact that his television days seem the best part of his CV.

You still have to wonder though why
Chapman received Senator Coonan’s nod when Lyn Maddock has not put a foot wrong
as the acting chief for so very long now. Maybe she’s just unlucky.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
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