SBS Managing Director and CEO Michael Ebeid has called time on his career at the multicultural broadcaster, ending a 7.5-year reign.
Ebeid will leave on October 1 and will make an announcement about his future in the coming weeks.
The former ABC exec joined the country’s other government-controlled broadcaster as MD June 2011, and is one of the country’s longest currently serving media executives.
His announcement comes after the broadcaster was seen as the saviour of World Cup coverage in Australia after rights holder Optus, which SBS sold its existing rights to, suffered a series of embarrassing streaming problems before ceding co-broadcasting rights back to SBS in a bid to quell the public backlash. The broadcaster still has the rights to 2022, along with a 10-year deal on the Tour de France.
Ebeid said that it had been “one of the most difficult decisions I’ve made” it was the “right time” for a new leader.
“SBS is the strongest it has been in over 40 years. We are more relevant than ever and we are ready for the future. Considering the struggle of societies globally to integrate diverse communities harmoniously, SBS today performs a critical role in the Australian community,” he said.
SBS Chairman Dr Bulent Hass Dellal paid tribute to CEO Magazine’s 2017 CEO of the Year, a pioneer of TV streaming having launched SBS On Demand in late 2011.
“I commend Michael for his focus on negotiating sustainable government funding, whilst also improving commercial revenues, which have secured SBS’s financial capacity to deliver on its Charter,” he said.
On Ebeid’s watch SBS launched National Indigenous Television (NITV) as a free-to-air channel in 2012, the Food Network and SBS VICELAND at the same time the broadcaster, like the ABC, had to deal with shrinking government funding.
The broadcaster said he arrested its declining television audiences to achieve seven years of continuous growth in reach in a rapidly fragmenting market, with an average of 13 million Australians each month engaging with the network’s channels, along with 2.8 million monthly unique visitors to SBS language and audio sites.
His crowning achievement, however, is negotiating Australian representation in the Eurovision Song Contest.
SBS said the search for a new MD will commence immediately.
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