ABC appoints Google executive as first female chief

Australia's economy has been thrust to the front and centre of an already contentious general election campaign (AFP Photo/PETER PARKS) (AFP/File)

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation on Monday named Google executive Michelle Guthrie as its new managing director, the first woman to hold the top post at the public broadcaster.

The former media and technology lawyer, who has held senior roles at Foxtel and BSkyB in Britain as well as Star TV in Asia, is charged with leading the ABC into the digital era after a stormy period of cuts and government criticism.

"Michelle is an exceptional media professional with strong content, operational and board experience within internationally-respected media companies," ABC chairman Jim Spigelman said.

"Michelle brings a unique local and global view to the role, having grown up in Sydney and worked at senior levels here and around the world.

"She brings to the ABC her business acumen, record in content-making across an array of platforms, a deep understanding of audience needs and corporate responsibility for promoting issues like diversity."

Guthrie will take over one of the biggest jobs in Australian media from Mark Scott in May.

"Having grown up with the ABC and having been a professional observer of it over the last three decades, I have profound respect for the important role the national broadcaster plays throughout Australia and internationally," she said.

Just before the announcement, former cabinet minister and Liberal senator Eric Abetz sounded a warning shot, urging Guthrie to end the "lefty love-in" at the ABC.

"The new managing director will inherit an unbalanced and largely centralised public broadcaster which has become a protection racket for the left ideology," the former employment minister said in a statement.

Guthrie joined Google in 2011 and is currently Singapore-based managing director for agencies in the Asia-Pacific.