Belfast Telegraph

Monday 22 September 2014

Hall sets out 'priorities' for BBC

Tony Hall was head of BBC news and current affairs from 1996 to 2001 before taking up the top job

The BBC's new boss has said he wants to run a simpler organisation than his predecessors and hopes to bring in a cap of £150,000 for redundancy payments for senior staff.

Director-general Tony Hall told the Culture, Media and Sport Committee he had three priorities for the organisation, saying there was "too much bureaucracy" and it had to be dealt with in "a specific and concrete way".

It is his first appearance before the committee since starting in the top job at the BBC earlier this month. A hesitant performance at the same committee helped seal the fate of his predecessor, George Entwistle, in the aftermath of the Jimmy Savile sex scandal.

Mr Hall said he wanted "a BBC that is in tune with the times". He said: "We will consult on a £150,000 cap on redundancy and severance payments to affect all senior management old and new".

He added that his third priority was to rebuild trust in the organisation.

Lord Hall, who began as a BBC trainee 40 years ago, was offered the top job when Mr Entwistle stepped down in November after only 54 days in the role when Tory peer Lord McAlpine was wrongly implicated in child abuse claims on BBC2's Newsnight.

The 62-year-old, who was made a cross-bench peer in 2010, was the only person contacted by the BBC Trust for the £450,000-a-year post. The new director-general was head of BBC news and current affairs from 1996 to 2001.

Mr Hall has previously criticised the large pay-offs given to senior staff in the past when they left the corporation. His immediate predecessor, Mr Entwistle, walked away with a £450,000 pay-off and recently published figures show that 10 other leading figures at the BBC received severance packages in recent years which together amounted to £4 million. The largest payment was to former deputy director-general Mark Byford, who was given £949,000.

BBC Trust chairman Lord Patten told the committee that the corporation had considered bringing in an American to take over from outgoing director-general Mark Thompson - who was eventually replaced by Mr Entwistle.

A £150,000 cap would bring the BBC into line with the civil service.

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