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Liberal Party donor appointed as SBS Chairman

Nihal Gupta is the new Chairman of SBS. He takes over more than six months after Jo Skrzynski concluded his five year term.

For more than a week it was understood that Gupta would fill the vacancy of Chairman. Gupta, widely reportedly a donor to the Liberal Party, is understood not to have been the first choice nor made it onto the Nomination Panel’s short list of recommendations.

Other than the Managing Director, who is appointed by the Board, the SBS Chairman and Directors are required to be appointed under a merit based system of appointments. However, Mr Abbott was widely criticised for interfering and the Cabinet criticised for approving a person who, based on merit, was not short listed by the Panel.

But a statement issued by the Communications Minister, Malcolm Turnbull said, "The appointment of Mr Nihal Gupta and Mr Peeyush Gupta follows the recommendation by the independent Nomination Panel for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) and SBS Board appointments".

Controversy erupted earlier in the year when Dr Watt appointed News Corporation columnist Janet Albrechtsen and former deputy Liberal leader Neil Brown QC to the Panel. Dr Watt is the Secretary to the Prime Minister and Cabinet. Under the law introduced by the previous government, the Secretary is required to appoint the Panel. 

Mr Gupta sits on the NSW Multicultural Business Advisory Panel which provides advice to the NSW government on business growth in NSW. But two prominent people highly active across a broad range of ethnic communities, have told Save Our SBS that the Business Advisory Panel is not involved with any ethnic communities at grass roots level and Mr Gupta does not have any connection with the spectrum of ethnic communities. His attitudes on multiculturalism and diversity are largely unknown.

Nihal Gupta heads up Digital Electronics Corporation Australia with a background in the electronics industry as an importer and has experience in international business management throughout Australia and the Asia Pacific region.

Peeyush Gupta was also appointed to the Board today and replaces Elleni Bereded-Samuel. His background is on commercial, public sector and not-for-profit Boards.

In statement, SBS’s Managing Director Michael Ebeid welcomed the two and said, “Our new Chair and Board member will provide valuable insights to the Board and Executive as we continue to deliver programs and services that explore and celebrate diversity and contribute to social cohesion against the backdrop of a growing and more complex multicultural Australia.”

The two Gupta’s have been appointed for five years.

Neither Gupta appears to have a direct prior connection with, or experience in, the broadcast industry. 

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