SBS managing director Michael Ebeid has described his decision to stand down from the helm of the public broadcaster in October as “one of the most difficult decisions” he has ever made.
His departure comes just a day after SBS broadcast the final of the World Cup, with hundreds of thousands of people tuning in across the country to deliver the organisation a massive ratings success.
The Egyptian-born Australian took on the role in July 2011, and was last year appointed as a Member of the Order of Australia for services to broadcasting and multicultural affairs.
“My decision to step down has been one of the most difficult decisions I’ve made,” Mr Ebeid said in a statement.
“Serving as the SBS managing director has been a real honour and privilege and I depart feeling confident that this is the right time for a new managing director to take the organisation forward.”
Our thanks to #SBS @TheWorldGame, @Craig_Foster, @LucyZelic and the amazing team for bringing Australians another successful @FIFAWorldCup. We remember Johnny Warren and Les Murray, and hope to see the @Socceroos in #Qatar2022. #JWF 🇦🇺⚽️🏆🌍 pic.twitter.com/UpIgo7Ewnh
— Johnny Warren Fans (@JohnnyWarren) July 15, 2018
Staff were briefed on the departure on Tuesday afternoon.
In relinquishing the role, Mr Ebeid said the multicultural broadcaster was the “strongest it has been in over 40 years”, amid public debate about the merits of taxpayer-funded broadcasters.
“We are more relevant than ever and we are ready for the future,” he said.
“Considering the struggle of societies globally to integrate diverse communities harmoniously, SBS today performs a critical role in the Australian community.
“We are the media organisation audiences can come to, on their preferred platform or device, for distinctive programs and different perspectives that create a better shared understanding within our diverse, multicultural society.”
Before becoming managing director of the multicultural broadcaster, Mr Ebeid worked for the ABC and telecommunications giant Optus.
SBS on-sold some of the broadcast rights to Optus for this year’s World Cup, but was given full access to all games after serious technical issues crippled the telco’s streaming services.
Mr Ebeid’s time as managing director has included significant change to the way the broadcaster operates, with the introduction of new digital television channels and streaming services.
“The SBS team is the most passionate and committed that I’ve worked with in my 30-year career,” he said.
“Importantly, I depart the organisation knowing that we have a very strong and experienced leadership team to help guide SBS forward.
“The organisation is honoured and humbled that SBS is valued by the communities we were created to serve four decades ago, and whom are at the heart of our organisation and the decisions we make today.”
SBS chairman Bulent Hass Dellal said Mr Ebeid’s departure was “disappointing”, but said he would leave the broadcaster in a stronger position.
Communications Minister Mitch Fifield described the outgoing managing director as “a great steward of the organisation during a time of tremendous change in the media”.
“Mr Ebeid has demonstrated a profound commitment to public broadcasting and the contribution it makes to media diversity and civic journalism,” he said in a statement.