The fear and loathing pouring out
against new ABC managing director Mark Scott, including in Crikey
yesterday, has been way out of all proportion. The poor bloke is a
senior media executive who will take a substantial pay cut to take on
an important public service role. There’s no suggestion that he was
anything other than capable at Fairfax where he has held senior
executive positions for the past five years.

Sure, he hasn’t
specifically run a broadcasting company before but the bloke will not
be out there manning the satellites or being executive producer of Lateline. Scott’s
job is primarily to allocate scarce budget resources to the right
people so that the ABC can fulfil its charter and provide interesting,
entertaining and informative content across its many radio, television
and online platforms.

Sure, his role as a former Liberal staffer
12 years ago was probably the clincher for a board and government
anxious to rein in the perceived biases of the ABC and it will probably
help when it comes to fighting the government for more funds. However,
is there any sign that The Age or The SMH has gone soft on the Howard Government since Mark Scott took control of those papers?

Sure, you can argue about the episode that Crikey broke at the time about The Age’s
2004 election editorial, but this wasn’t clear cut and both then editor
Michael Gawenda and deputy editor Simon Mann stated publicly that they
made the decision on economic grounds. In hindsight, The Age’s credibility would be lower today if it had followed Crikey’s contrarian line and editorialised for Mark Latham to be in The Lodge.

There’s
no doubt there were probably better alternatives if taxpayers were
prepared to put someone on a huge package and dramatically expand its
budget. In fact, News Corp heavyweight David Hill is on the record
saying he’d love the job based on this extract from Away Game: Australians inAmerican Boardrooms, a recent book by Australian journalist Luke Collins:

Hill, who is now president of Murdoch’s DirecTV
Entertainment Group, said: “I love doing what I’m doing. Mentally, it’s
very rewarding. I can’t see myself doing anything in Australia. The
only thing I’d want to do in Australia, and this is going to sound
really ridiculous: I would love to go back and run the ABC for two or
three years. Go in there and kick some a*se big time and try to turn it
into something that’s truly representative of Australian culture.” It
seems extraordinarily unlikel