Guthrie will replace Mark Scott in May 2016, after a month-long handover, and take home an annual $900,000 salary.
She will be the first woman to lead the national broadcaster.
Chairman James Spigelman announced her appointment on Monday, saying she has the ideal credentials to lead the ABC into the digital era.
“The ABC Board made this appointment following a thorough local and international search that produced an outstanding field of candidates,” he said in a statement.
Guthrie brings a “unique local and global view” to the role, having grown up in Sydney and worked in senior roles around the world.
“We have no doubt she is the right person to succeed Mark Scott next year and to lead the corporation in its broadcasting and digital work,” he said.
Guthrie said it was an honour to have been chosen by the board.
“For me it’s coming home,” she told ABC TV.
“It’s a fantastic opportunity to lead this organisation, I’m thrilled to be doing it.”
The former media lawyer, who has strong links with the Murdoch empire having held position in Foxtel, BSkyB and Star TV, said it was important to make the distinction that the ABC is a public broadcaster, not a state one.
She said it was too early to be drawn on whether online ABC content could eventually go behind a paywall.
Asked about Labor Senator Sam Dastyari’s criticism of her former employer Google’s role in minimising tax, Guthrie said she was not responsible for finance at the company.
“I’m certainly not authorised or qualified to speak on … that issue, but ultimately I’m looking forward to coming home and joining the ABC,” she said.
Earlier on Monday, dumped federal cabinet minister Eric Abetz said the new managing director would have to end the “lefty love-in” at the public broadcaster.
Pre-empting the board announcement, the Liberal senator said Scott’s replacement must restore editorial balance to earn the public’s confidence.
“The new managing director will inherit an unbalanced and largely centralised public broadcaster which has become a protection racket for the left ideology,” he said in a statement.
– with AAP
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