The ABC is set for more uncertainty over coming months with the Turnbull government not expected to reappoint James Spigelman as the public broadcaster's chair when his term expires in March.
The ABC has been beset by tension and controversy over recent months because of changes to television and radio programming for 2017, including an overhaul of TV science program Catalyst and the removal of most music programs from Radio National.
Some staff have become unsettled about the direction of the ABC under managing director Michelle Guthrie, a former News Corp executive who has flagged plans to restructure the broadcaster's operations.
While an official decision has not been made, the ABC is preparing for Mr Spigelman, an esteemed former judge appointed by the Gillard government in 2012, to leave when his term expires on March 31. There is concern the broadcaster could be left with a vacuum at the top given the government has not announced a successor to SBS chairman Nihal Gupta since he resigned in February.
Two ABC board members whose terms expired in June, Fiona Stanley and Jane Bennett, have also not been replaced.
"The working view is he will go," a senior ABC source said. "Neither side [the ABC or the government] is working on the assumption he will be reappointed.
"We already have an MD trying to drive change and further uncertainty won't help."
Another ABC source said: "He's indicated discontent he won't be around for long.
"A third of the board is missing and has been for a long time - it's not a healthy thing for the ABC."
Mr Spigelman, a former chief justice of the NSW Supreme Court and private secretary to former Labor prime minister Gough Whitlam, is said to have a friendly personal relationship with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. But governments rarely miss the chance to make their own appointment to such a plum role.
Mr Spigelman has also clashed with the government over the ABC's recent pay deal, which government ministers have attacked for being more generous than the government's public service bargaining policy allows. Mr Spigelman publicly accused the government of posing a "fundamental challenge to the independence of the ABC" by seeking to intervene in its staffing policies.
A spokeswoman for Communications Minister Mitch Fifield said: "The government has made no decisions regarding the position of ABC chair."
The spokeswoman said appointments to the vacant board positions - including the chair of SBS - would be made in early 2017.
Under rules introduced by the Labor government, ABC and SBS board appointments are made under an arms-length appointment process overseen by an independent panel. Fairfax Media has previously reported that Mr Turnbull and other senior members of the government would like to scrap the process, seen as cumbersome and expensive, but this would be difficult to pass through the Senate.
One of Mr Spieglaman's most significant moves has been to introduce independent editorial reviews in which outside experts are commissioned to critique aspects of the ABC's journalism. Some staff believe the reviews have merely provided ammunition to the broadcaster's enemies who seize on any findings of bias while downplaying positive findings.
The ABC will meet on Thursday and is expected to discuss Ms Guthrie's plans to restructure the organisation. Ms Guthrie has indicated she would like to create a flatter structure, which could lead to the merging of some of the ABC's 17 separate divisions.
The story ABC chair Jim Spigelman not expected to be reappointed by Turnbull government first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.