Minister for Communications and the Arts Mitch Fifield has announced a range of new appointments to the boards of both the ABC and SBS.

To the ABC board, the Turnbull government has appointed Vanessa Guthrie (no relation to ABC MD Michelle Guthrie) and Georgina Somerset as non-executive directors.

Vanessa Guthrie is the chair of the Minerals Council of Australia and the former CEO of Toro Energy. Guthrie is also the deputy chair of the Western Australia Cricket Association and an independent director of the Murlpirrmurra Connection.

Somerset is the vice president of Agforce Queensland, and runs a beef cattle business. She also is a director of the Queensland section of the Royal Flying Doctor Service, the Children’s Health Queensland Hospital and Health Service, QRAA and Outback Sunrise.

Emeritus Professor Sally Walker and George Savvides have been appointed non-executive directors at SBS, with Savvides to also serve as deputy chair.

Walker is a former vice-chancellor and president of Deakin University. In 2011 she was made a Member of the Order of Australia in recognition of her contribution to education, to the law as an academic, and to the advancement of women.

Savvides, a former managing director of Medibank Private, currently serves as chairman of World Vision Australia.

Each director will serve for five years. Both Somerset and Savvides were recommended to the government by an independent nomination panel.

Guthrie was considered by the panel but was not in its final list of recommendations, while Walker was not assessed. However both women were identified by the government as having the "requisite skills" for the job. Fifield’s statement said the government had been conscious of the need to ensure a balanced geographic and gender representation on the board.

The government is said to be considering a report from the nomination panel in respect to the position of ABC chairperson, with an announcement to be made soon.

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