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Pay slip at the ABC (A) 2014-160.1

19 June 2014



One morning in late November 2013, Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) staff around the country woke to find that The Australian newspaper had published salary details of the network’s highest-paid presenters and senior personnel. For years, the ABC had resisted a number of Freedom of Information requests, with Managing Director Mark Scott arguing that releasing such information would severely disadvantage the ABC in a competitive media environment against its commercial rivals. In what was described as the country’s most transparent media organisation, salaries had remained confidential, so that when pay information was leaked, Scott swiftly issued an apology to his staff for the slip. As Scott himself, however, appeared at the top of the list of top earners, confidentiality and the ABC’s competitive edge became only part of the problem. What had arisen out of an issue of the public interest became an altogether different issue among disgruntled staff, who began to ask bigger questions about apparent pay discrepancies.

This case can be used to discuss issues of government organisational transparency, including in a competitive media environment, and the accountability of senior managers while safeguarding employee privacy. It can also be used to discuss the ethics of salary planning across a national organisation, and the dynamics of media workplaces as an organisational type.

Read more:

  • Supplementary teaching resource, written by Professor Jason Potts for The Conversation, provides further analysis and information on this case and may be used as supplementary reading and/or teaching material.
Authors: Marinella Padula
Published Date: 19 June 2014
Author Institution: ANZSOG
Featured Content Length: 5
Content Length: 5
Product Type: One-part case, Primary resources