Kim Williams will confront old demons when he takes the chair of Australian national broadcaster the ABC in March.
His nomination was announced by prime minister Anthony Albanese, who described him as a “perfect fit” for the role. “Of all the people who were forwarded potentially as candidates for this position, (he) shares a life experience and a breadth of capacity that he will bring to this role.”
Williams has had leadership roles with Foxtel, the Sydney Opera House Trust, the Australian Film Commission and Musica Viva Australia.
However it was his time as chief executive of News Corp Australia – charged with modernising the media group and cutting costs – he found most confronting.
A key problem was the opposition of dominant News editors who took their grievances directly to the top. Things weren’t helped when Rupert Murdoch despatched tabloid veteran Col Allan to help lead the papers ahead of a federal election.
Williams’ achievements at News, which included support for paywalls and commissioning of the multi-million dollar EidosMedia Méthode content management system – have since been recognised as necessary and appropriate.
However, the publicly-funded ABC is a favourite target for News mastheads, especially national daily The Australian, and Williams can expect the criticism to get personal.