The BBC Trust has announced that Tony Hall, Lord Hall of Birkenhead, will take on the role of director-general for the public broadcaster in March.
Hall, currently chief executive of the Royal Opera House and a former head of BBC’s News and Current Affairs division from 1996 to 2001, is also presently the deputy chairman of Channel 4.
During his time with the BBC, he was on hand to oversee the launches of BBC News Online, Radio 5 Live, BBC News 24 and BBC Parliament.
According to a statement issued by the BBC Trust, the appointment was unanimously agreed upon by BBC trustees at a meeting this morning (November 22).
“While there are still very serious questions to be answered by the on-going inquiries, it is in the interests of license fee payers that the BBC now starts to refocus on its main purpose – making great programs that audiences love and trust,” said BBC Trust chairman Lord Patten in a statement.
“In doing this it will need to take a long, hard look at the way it operates and put in place the changes required to ensure it lives up to the standards that the public expects. Tony Hall is the right person to lead this and I am delighted that he is taking on this role. For its part I want to make sure that the Trust gives Tony Hall whatever help and support he needs to re-build the BBC’s management around him.
“Tony Hall has been an insider and is a currently an outsider,” he continued. “As an ex-BBC man he understands how the corporation’s culture and behavior make it, at its best, the greatest broadcaster in the world. And from his vantage point outside the BBC, he understands the sometimes justified criticisms of the corporation – that it can be inward looking and on occasions too institutional.
“But perhaps most importantly, given where we now find ourselves, his background in news will prove invaluable as the BBC looks to rebuild both its reputation in this area and the trust of audiences.”
Hall, in his own statement, said he accepted the invitation because he “believes passionately in the BBC.”
“This organization is an incredibly important part of what makes the United Kingdom what it is. And of course it matters not just to people in this country – but to tens of millions around the world too,” he said. It’s been a difficult few weeks – but together we’ll get through it.
“I’m committed to ensuring our news services are the best in the world,” he added. “I’m committed to making this a place where creative people, the best and the brightest, want to work. And I know from my first days here as a news trainee, to my time as head of news and current affairs, to my time now at the Royal Opera House, that I can’t do it on my own. Having the right teams working together, sparking off each other, is key.
“And I want to build a world class team to lead a world class BBC.”
Hall’s yearly salary will be £450,000 (US$717,000).
According to the statement, the Trust approached Hall directly for the position, and there were no other candidates consulted with.
“Just over four months ago the Trust completed a thorough recruitment process. Tony Hall wasn’t available then but I am delighted he has agreed to come on board now,” said Lord Patten.
“Of course we might have considered going through the whole lengthy recruitment process again with a new round of advertisements and another global hunt for candidates. But I believe the approach we have taken is ultimately in the interests of the BBC and, most importantly, license fee payers as we have got the best candidate and he will help the organization quickly get back on an even keel.”
The appointment follows the resignation of previous director-general George Entwistle, who left the post earlier this month after 54 days amid scandals regarding flagship BBC news program ‘Newsnight.’