Australian broadcaster and critic Deb Verhoeven will replace Ruth Jones as chief executive of the Australian Film Institute (AFI) which is currently under-going a period of uncertainty following a reduction in funding.

Jones will have been with the AFI for five years when she departs on August 30. AFI chair Denny Lawrence described her as an exemplary leader who has been instrumental in building profile and support for the institute. "She has created a lot of goodwill towards the AFI, among the membership and industry bodies," Lawrence said.

Verhoeven, who is currently head of media and cinema studies at RMIT University, joins the AFI at a difficult time due to the Australian Film Commission's (AFC) decision to no longer fund its distribution activities and research and information functions. The AFC believes these services are mostly used by the education sector and don't fit the AFI's core role of industry development. However the AFC is committed to maintaining support for the AFI's annual awards and for exhibition.

Many local filmmakers, including Geoffrey Rush, Baz Luhrmann and Bill Bennett, have publicly proclaimed their support for the embattled AFI retaining all its functions with the support of the AFC.