Crisis-hit BBC appoints new director-general
- Published: 22/11/2012 at 08:47 PM
- Online news:
The BBC turned to its former news chief on Thursday to lead it through the crisis over its reporting of child sex abuse, naming Royal Opera House boss Tony Hall as its new director-general.
The BBC turned to its former news chief on Thursday to lead it through the crisis over its reporting of child sex abuse, naming Royal Opera House boss Tony Hall, pictured here in 2008, as its new director-general.
The BBC said Hall, 61, had both the inside knowledge and outside experience to restore trust in the corporation in the wake of claims that one of its stars was a serial sex offender and a report wrongly accusing a politician of paedophilia.
Hall's predecessor George Entwistle dramatically resigned from the world's largest public broadcaster on November 10 over the botched report.
At a press conference at the BBC's London headquarters, Hall said he cared "passionately" about the corporation, having worked there for 28 years before leaving in 2001 to take charge of one of Britain's cultural jewels.
"It's been a really tough few weeks for the organisation," said Hall.
"I know we can get through it by listening patiently, by thinking carefully about what to do next."
Hall joined the BBC as a trainee and 1973 and rose to serve as its head of news from 1996 until 2001, launching both its online service and 24-hour news channel.
He said the BBC was "one of those extraordinary organisations which is an absolutely essential part of Britain, of the UK, of who we are. But it also has this incredible impact around the world too."
Chris Patten, the head of the BBC Trust governing body which appoints the director-general, said people's faith in the broadcaster had "taken a hit in the last couple of months and it's imperative that we should rebuild that as soon and as comprehensively as we can".
"This is a new start for this great institution and I couldn't be happier that it's Tony who's agreed to take on these responsibilities," Patten said, describing the new leader's journalistic reputation as "formidable".
"He's had an equally distinguished record as the leader of one of our greatest cultural institutions, the Royal Opera House," Patten added.
Much of the BBC's reputation depends on trust in its news coverage, said Patten, the former Hong Kong governor.
"Clearly that trust has taken a hit in the last couple of months and it's imperative that we should rebuild that as soon and as comprehensively as we can."
Entwistle was director-general for just 54 days -- the shortest leadership in the British Broadcasting Corporation's 90-year history.
He spent most of that time under pressure over the BBC's response to allegations that its presenter Jimmy Savile, who died last year aged 84, had abused hundreds of children over four decades.
But it was the investigation by the BBC's flagship current affairs show Newsnight, into unrelated allegations of child abuse at a Welsh children's home, that finally claimed Entwistle's job.
Hall's first task will be to get a grip on the BBC's response to the Newsnight failures and the Savile scandal, which has sparked three internal BBC probes and a major police investigation.
David Dimbleby, one of the BBC's best-known presenters, said the appointment would be welcomed by staff.
"I think most people will be thrilled at this choice and will also get the leadership that is needed from somebody who is a creative man and a good administrator -- and a calm man in a time of crisis."
Hall was the only person approached about the BBC's top job, and his appointment just 12 days after his predecessor quit is in stark contrast to the usual lengthy rounds of interviews with candidates.
Patten defended the rapid recruitment process, saying that Hall would "help the organisation quickly get back on an even keel".
Hall, a life member of Britain's upper house of parliament, is expected to start in early March, with acting director-general Tim Davie remaining in the post until then.
The new director-general will earn pound sterling450,000 ($720,000, 560,000 euros) a year, the same salary as Entwistle.
Culture minister Maria Miller said Hall had "a very strong track record in successfully leading iconic organisations.
"It is important now that Tony Hall gets to grips quickly -- to provide the stability and certainty that the BBC needs, and restore public confidence," she said.
About the author
- Writer: AFP
Position: News agency