Matchbox Pictures poaches the ABC’s Alastair McKinnon

25 September, 2018 by Don Groves

Alastair McKinnon.

NBCUniversal International Studios today named senior ABC executive Alastair McKinnon as managing director of Matchbox Pictures.


As the ABC’s head of content investment and planning, McKinnon has been responsible for overseeing content production, business and planning across all genres and platforms for the entertainment and specialist division.

He has resigned but will serve out his notice until November 30 and will take up the new role on December 3.

The loss of such an experienced executive is not great timing for the public broadcaster in the wake of yesterday’s sacking of its first female MD Michelle Guthrie.

Matt Vitins, Matchbox Pictures’ director of business affairs, has been interim MD since Chris Oliver-Taylor departed in March to become CEO at FremantleMedia Australia, a post which he took up last week after extended gardening leave.

Jeff Wachtel, president of NBCUniversal International Studios said: “In Alastair we believe we’ve found a visionary leader to take Matchbox to even greater achievements. Matchbox was founded as a creative enterprise and we will always honor its guiding principles as we work with the entire team to broaden the company’s reach in Australia and beyond.”

McKinnon added: “I am thrilled to join the extraordinary team at Matchbox with its unparalleled track record for creative excellence and innovation in delivering award-winning content. The opportunity to lead this outstanding company through its next phase of growth in the global marketplace is one I simply could not refuse.”

His remit will include expanding the company’s global footprint by fostering creative and commercial opportunities across international markets, working with parent company NBCUniversal International Studios and partners including co-founder Tony Ayres and his new production company TAP.

He joined the ABC as deputy head of TV fiction in 2015 from SBS, where he was head of business affairs, succeeding Greer Simpkin, who joined David Jowsey and Ivan Sen at Bunya Productions.

The following year he was promoted to acting head of the division, overseeing the development and production of a raft of hit domestic and international shows including Bunya’s Mystery Road and Matchbox’s Glitch.

Earlier in his career he held strategic, policy and legal positions at Screen Australia, Ausfilm and the AFC as well as production roles in the UK.

David Anderson, the ABC’s director of entertainment and specialist, who has been elevated to acting MD, said: “Alastair has been a great asset to the ABC and our audiences in ensuring we deliver high-quality, distinctive and innovative Australian content across television and digital services.

“I know our team and industry partners will join me in thanking Alastair for his outstanding contribution to the ABC and to the industry more broadly.”