The public broadcasters are set to lose another managing director in a week, as SBS supremo Michael Ebeid finishes his seven-and-a-half-year tenure today.
Ebeid shocked the media world in July when he announced he was joining Telstra as its new enterprise group executive, a role he commences next Monday.
In an interview in today’s Australian Financial Review, Ebeid reveals he has no interest in the managing director role at the ABC vacated after Michelle Guthrie’s sensational sacking last week.
Interestingly, Ebeid’s name was reportedly in the mix back in 2015 for the ABC’s op job before Guthrie was appointed in December of that year. Despite media reports to the contrary, Ebeid himself has told B&T that he was never actually a candidate.
Instead, the affable 52-year-old said he was looking forward to taking up the enterprise role at Telstra. “I’m quite passionate about where technology is going,” he told The AFR. “I think there’s going to be quite a lot of advancement in the coming two to five years and I’m really excited to be a part of that.”
In the wide-ranging interview, Ebeid nominated Australia’s inclusion in Eurovision as his proudest moment at the helm of SBS.
“The more people that told us we weren’t part of Europe and we’d never do it, the more we wanted to do it, so that was a fun day. Eurovision really epitomises what we stand for; bringing cultures together,” Ebeid said.
Ebeid is also credited for turning around staff morale at the SBS who, prior to his arrival, had felt that they’d always played second fiddle to the ABC. He’d also been credited for turning around the broadcaster’s financial fortunes, despite a decrease in government funding.
“We’ve changed the culture now to be very much a dynamic, challenger brand that is doing edgy content and is quite creative and innovative, given that we don’t have a lot of money,” he said.
Ebeid – who was born in Egypt and is openly gay – added: “When I was a kid growing up in Australia and I would watch television, I would never see anyone with brown skin on TV.