Mr Skrzynski, a Polish refugee whose family arrived in Australia in 1950, initiated a strategic review of SBS resulting in a revitalised expression of the SBS Charter, which then led to a period of transformation of the organisation in an environment of significant changes in Australian society and in broadcast media.
Over the past five years, SBS TV programming has been distinguished through the delivery of ground-breaking national and international award-winning Australian programs like Go Back to Where You Came From 1 and 2, which shone a light on the refugee experience; Immigration Nation, which went to the heart of what it means to be part of multicultural Australia; East West 101 and Better Man. These programs exemplify the essence of the unique SBS Charter, which is to reflect the diversity of Australian society and which speak to our multicultural society in a way no other broadcaster does.
During his chairmanship, there has been a major review of the SBS Radio Schedule to reflect Australia’s changing migration patterns, extending to 74 the weekly radio in-language programs, the launch of NITV as Australia’s first national free-to-air Indigenous television channel, incorporation of subscription channels World Movies and STUDIO and the relaunch of SBS 2 to bring younger Australians to SBS.
There has been a generational change of senior executives under Mr Skrzynski’s chairmanship, starting with the appointment of Michael Ebeid as Managing Director, and extending to the majority of the leadership team.
In reflecting on the unique role of SBS, Mr Skrzynski stated:
“I firmly believe the services SBS provides are more relevant today, than at any other point in our near 40-year history.
“It would be a terrible mistake for Australia to rest on its laurels, rather than intensifying our efforts to maintain our internationally envied record of success as a socially cohesive multicultural society and our position as country of choice for skilled migrants.
“SBS has a vital role in this complex task, given that today one in four Australians speak a language other than English at home, and have a dramatically more diverse range of cultural, religious and linguistic backgrounds than the predominantly European migrant backgrounds when SBS was first launched.
“I would like to pay tribute to my fellow Directors who have brought to bear invaluable skills from their diverse cultural backgrounds, and to Michael Ebeid and the executive team and all the staff who have rekindled the energy and passion that sets SBS apart – it’s been a privilege to have worked with them all.”
Minister for Communications, Malcolm Turnbull, said:
“Joe Skrzynski has been an outstanding chairman of SBS, a role in which he brought together his years of business experience, his deep and lived experience of multiculturalism and his passionate commitment to Australian arts and culture. SBS is a stronger organisation for his leadership and on behalf of the Government I thank him for his service in this important role.”
SBS Deputy Chair of the Board, Hass Dellal OAM, said:
“Over the past five years, the SBS Board has benefited immeasurably from Joe’s acute sensitivity to the needs of multicultural communities in contemporary Australia and his deeply rooted passion for ensuring that SBS contributes meaningfully to the ability of every migrant to fully participate in Australian society.”
SBS Managing Director, Michael Ebeid, said:
“Joe’s commitment to delivering on SBS’s role of contributing to successful multiculturalism, coupled with his passion for the media and astute business mind have guided the reshaping of our strategic direction when SBS was at a crossroads.
“In particular I’d like to acknowledge his push to include an explicit statement on our role in aiding social cohesion in Australia and the exploitation of new technologies to do this, which are now reflected in the organisation’s mission and drive its focus on programming priorities.
“Under Joe’s chairmanship, the organisation also secured much-needed additional government funding for SBS in two successive federal budgets, which helped to shore-up our financial sustainability and gave confidence to all our employees that the importance of our services was recognised and valued. And on a personal note I want to thank Joe for being such a support to me as Managing Director of SBS.”
Mr Skrzynski was appointed to the SBS Board in March, 2009 and elevated to Chair in December, 2009. Mr Skrzynski was the first Chair to be appointed under the Federal Government’s merit-based process for government board appointments.
In the interim, Deputy Chair Hass Dellal will act as Chair of the SBS Board of Directors.
The SBS Board of Directors is responsible for deciding the objectives, strategies and policies to be followed by SBS in performing its functions and ensuring that SBS performs in a proper, efficient and economical manner, and with the maximum benefit to the people of Australia.
Biography: Joseph Skrzynski, AO
Joseph Skrzynski is the Founding Partner of CHAMP Private Equity, the pioneering Australian funds manager with $3 billion of institutional money under management in the Private Equity sector. Among the eighty investments made by the CHAMP funds, have been the media related controlling investments in Austar and oOh!media.
Prior to CHAMP, Mr Skrzynski had a career in investment banking as well as serving as Chief Executive of the Australian Film Commission during the formative years of the Australian film and television industry.
Parallel to his business career, Mr Skrzynski has had an extensive involvement with the media and cultural sectors. He has previously held the positions of: Chairman, Sydney Opera House Trust; Chairman, Australian Film & Television School; Chairman, Australian Broadcasting Council; Chairman, National Planning Authority; Deputy Chairman, Major Organisations Board of The Australia Council; Deputy Chairman, Aboriginal Arts & Crafts Limited; Director, Sydney Dance Company; Director, Belvoir Street; and Director, Sydney Film School.
His appointments to the statutory authorities amongst these organisations have been under both Liberal National Party and Labor Party led governments.
He is married to Theatre Director, Ros Horin, and together they are active in philanthropic activities through a family PAF foundation.