Misha Ketchell writes:

Reading the papers would’ve been an onerous task for new ABC
managing director Mark Scott this morning as he copped a bucketing from
all corners for everything from “rising without a trace” at Fairfax, to
his complete lack of broadcasting experience and his Liberal Party links.

It seems no-one was happy with Scott’s elevation to the top job at the public
broadcaster, with strident ABC critic PP McGuinness leading the attack
in the Oz this morning and giving the “risen without a trace” line a
good airing before going on to junk Scott’s CV thus:

While ostensibly a journalist, Scott has little journalistic
experience. He was appointed education editor of the SMH in 1994 with
no prior journalistic experience. Probably this had something to do
with his background as a schoolteacher and his father’s influence:
Brian Scott had conducted or was in the process of conducting several
official inquiries into the workings of the education system (with no
visible result).
Mark Scott had acquired one of Harvard’s meaningless degrees in
management, not a master of business administration (like the
unfortunate young Warwick Fairfax) but a master of public
administration; his only experience in public administration was a
stint in the office of the (also unfortunate) Terry Metherell when he
was the Liberal minister of education in NSW. But management degrees of
any kind were popular during Fred Hilmer’s period as chief executive of
Fairfax.

…although Scott had no real journalistic runs on the board
as a reporter, analyst or commentator, he rose rapidly to the top of
the journalistic tree. He could, after all, be said to be almost a
hereditary management expert. His grandfather, Walter Dill Scott (later
Sir Walter), was the founder of one of the first and most respected
indigenous management firms. His father, Brian, AO, MBA and DBA, took
over the family firm and later became a director of many companies and
other organisations (including at one time the AGSM).

In the Fin Review, national correspondent Pamela Williams’s skewering this morning was more subtle but equally deadly, including this:

But in the first round of Kirk’s management reorganisation
last year, Scott was made editorial director. Kirk is believed to have
discussed with Scott the scope of his new position and whether there
was any future editorial role for Scott once a number of current
projects were concluded.

Williams goes on to point out that Scott comes to the ABC job without
either broadcasting experience or a background as chief executive of
even a small company, and ends with this line: “perhaps one hint that
he has the breadth of the challenge on his mind was his fast response
when asked yesterday how he would describe the famously reddish-sienna
shade of carpet throughout the Fairfax executive level. ‘Bloodstained,’
Scott said, without missing a beat.”

In The Daily Telegraph entertainment reporter Michael Bodey writes that Scott got the job because he was the only person putting his hand up:

The ABC made what chairman Donald McDonald called a “unanimous
decision” because the only other candidate to make the final cut,
BSkyB’s former chief operating officer Richard Freudenstein, withdrew
his candidacy.

The Daily Telegraph understands the ABC board was underwhelmed
with the quality of the candidates who applied, although Mr McDonald
noted “we went through a very thorough process”. Mr Scott, a former
schoolteacher and adviser to controversial former state education
minister Terry Metherell, made much of his handling of unions at
Fairfax in his presentation to the ABC board.

Even Scott’s home paper The Sydney Morning Herald turned on him for equivocating over advertising on the ABC. Under the heading “Ads on Aunty: New boss has no firm view” Lisa Murray writes:

The ABC’s new managing director, Mark Scott, has come
under fire for refusing to state his position on whether there should
be advertising on the ABC.

Mr Scott said yesterday that
it was “a matter for government policy” and that he had “no strong
view” on the potential for advertising on ABC’s websites.

In another piece in The SMH Murray writes;

“The main reaction from staff today has been: Mark who?” said one ABC
executive who preferred not to be named. “But I don’t think people are
too concerned. After the tumultuous reign of Jonathan Shier, anyone
seems better,” he said, referring to the ABC managing director forced
out in a stormy departure three years ago.

Peter Fray

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