Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 22 July 2014

New BBC DG: We can get through this

Tony Hall, right, and BBC Trust chairman Lord Patten

The new director-general of the BBC has vowed to drag the broadcaster out of its crisis, saying: "I know we can get through this."

Tony Hall, the former head of the Royal Opera House, was handed the £450,000-a-year role - the biggest post in UK broadcasting - after being directly approached by the BBC Trust 12 days after George Entwistle resigned from the post. He lasted just 54 days in the job.

The appointment of Lord Hall, a former BBC news executive who has been chief executive of the ROH since 2001, has been hailed as providing the corporation with some welcome leadership. Tim Davie will remain as the acting director-general until Lord Hall is able to take up the post next March.

Lord Patten, chairman of the BBC Trust, said Lord Hall was the "right person" to lead the BBC as it takes "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".

The new DG - who was the only candidate contacted by the Trust - said: "It's been a really tough few weeks for this organisation and I know we can get through it by listening patiently by thinking carefully about what to do next."

Speaking at the BBC's Broadcasting House in London, he added: "I care passionately about the BBC, about what it can do, its programme-makers and the impact we have in all sorts of different ways. It's one of those extraordinary organisations which is an absolutely essential part of Britain, of the UK, of who we are. But also has this incredible impact around the world too.

"I know that with the right creative team in place, working off each other, sparking off each other, giving each other ideas, you can do extraordinary creative things and I want to build a world-class team for this world-class organisation."

The 61-year-old - made a cross-bench peer in 2010 - did not take questions from reporters about his appointment, and instead went to meet BBC staff. He has retained his interests in broadcasting as deputy chairman of Channel 4.

Culture Secretary Maria Miller praised his appointment and said: "He has a very strong track record in successfully leading iconic organisations." Veteran broadcaster David Dimbleby said: "I think it's a very good choice and a great relief for those of us who work for the BBC."

Lord Hall will have to rebuild the BBC's battered reputation after weeks of difficulties precipitated by the Jimmy Savile abuse scandal and a report on BBC2's Newsnight programme, which mistakenly implicated Lord McAlpine in child abuse. That blunder led to Mr Entwistle quitting his post and also saw the BBC settling with Lord McAlpine for £185,000 last week.

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