The Australian Press Council has appointed Neville Stevens AO as its new Chair, effective 22 January 2018. Mr Stevens has wide experience chairing panels and reviews in the private and public sectors, and is a distinguished former public servant who was head of two major Australian government departments, one of them dealing with telecommunications, media and broadcasting.

Since retiring as Secretary of the Department of Communications, Information Technology and the Arts in 2001, Mr Stevens has been Chair of a number of public and private organisations, conducted major federal government reviews and worked extensively as a consultant on both business and government-related issues. These roles have included:

  • Chairman of the NSW government's Council for Innovation and Productivity;
  • Chairman of NICTA (Australia’s Information and Communications Technology Research Centre of Excellence);
  • Independent Chairman of Communication Alliance (a body founded by the telecommunications industry to assist in self-regulation);
  • Independent Chairman of the Broadband Management Committee (set up by the NSW government in 2005 to reduce telecommunications costs); and
  • head of a review for the Australian government into Indigenous broadcasting.

Mr Stevens replaces Professor David Weisbrot AM, who stepped down as Press Council Chair in July 2017 after two years of outstanding achievement in the role.

John Doyle AC, one of the Press Council’s two Vice-Chairs, said that Mr Stevens was well-placed to lead the organisation on to the next stage in its development, which is likely to be a time of significant change in the media.

“The work of the Press Council includes setting standards, handling complaints and advocating for freedom of speech and freedom of the press,” Mr Doyle said. “I am confident that Neville Stevens will build on what previous Chairs have accomplished and that the Press Council will continue to achieve its goals effectively.”

Vice-Chair Julie Kinross said: “Neville’s past experience with innovation, convergence and media regulation will enable him to lead the Australian Press Council at a time the industry is undergoing digital transformation and facing the challenges that poses. We welcome Neville’s appointment.”

Neville Stevens said: “The media sector is undergoing rapid change as digital technology disrupts traditional business models. The need for a robust and responsible media sector has never been greater. I believe that the Press Council should be an strong advocate for a free and responsible press and freedom of speech. My predecessor, Professor David Weisbrot, worked hard to make the Press Council an effective voice in this area and to ensure relevant standards and effective handling of complaints. I embrace the opportunity to build on what he and others have achieved by working with the Press Council, all its members and the wider community on these issues.”

“I’m genuinely delighted that Neville Stevens has accepted the post of Chair,” said the Press Council’s Executive Director, John Pender. “He has exceptional experience in service of the Australian community and in the regulatory and self-regulatory spheres.

“He will bring a fresh perspective to the important work of the Press Council at a time when print and electronic media are undergoing profound change.”

Media Advisory: The new Chair will not be doing any media interviews until after taking up his duties in late January. For more details contact Director of Research and Communications Michael Rose on 02 9261 1930or email media@presscouncil.org.au.

13 December 2017 

Image source: The Australian

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