Australian Broadcasting Corp. Appoints New Head of Television

Richard Finlayson - H 2013

Richard Finlayson is currently the chief operating officer at Australia’s multicultural public broadcaster, SBS.

SYDNEY - The Australian Broadcasting Corp. has found its new head of television in the senior ranks of its smaller, commercial counterpart, local multicultural broadcaster the Special Broadcasting Service (SBS).

SBS chief operating officer Richard Finlayson has been appointed to the ABC post, replacing Kim Dalton, who left the national broadcaster last month after a seven year tenure.

In an email to staff sent Tuesday, ABC managing director Mark Scott said Finlayson, who has been with SBS also for seven years, “brings to the ABC expertise in creative and change management and an ability to plot a course in a dynamic media environment.”

"Richard brings to the job deep experience in media and broadcasting with a career that has spanned, TV production and programming, business development, digital distribution and print journalism,” Scott said.

“As COO, Richard has championed a reshaping of SBS, redirecting operational resources to focus on creative capacity, leading its successful subscription channels (World Movies and Studio) as well as being responsible for key deals at SBS, including bringing the A League to free-to-air TV,” Scott added.

Finlayson has also worked at pay TV program provider XYZ Networks, where he was director of program acquisitions covering seven general entertainment and specialist channels. He founded the Weather Channel for regional pay TV group Austar Communications.

But the appointment has been questioned in some sections of the local media, which have focused on his supposed lack of programming experience.

Dalton has been widely credited as overseeing the resurgence in quality local drama at the ABC during his seven years, which included commissioning successful series like Redfern Now, The Slap and Rake. He also steered the broadcaster’s move into digital broadcasting, creating three digital multi-channels, including ABC2, tween service ABC3 and 24-hours news channel ABCNews24, to join the main ABC1 channel and also oversaw the creation of the ABC’s market leading online catch-up TV service, ABC iview.

Scott said Finlayson is “keen to build on that great tradition, to get the best out of our creative talent both internally and externally, and to add to ABC TV’s cross-platform and digital innovation.”

Finlayson starts his new role on July 1.