BBC appoints Fran Unsworth as director of news and current affairs
James Harding announced in October that he was leaving the £340,000 a year post.
The BBC has appointed Fran Unsworth to the role of director of news and current affairs, one of the “most demanding” jobs in broadcasting.
It is understood that Unsworth’s salary will be the same as that of her predecessor James Harding, who announced in October that he was leaving his £340,000 a year post.
Unsworth is currently director of the BBC World Service Group and deputy director of news and current affairs at the broadcaster, which sparked controversy with its gender pay gap earlier this year.
Announcing the appointment, BBC director-general Tony Hall said: “The director of news and current affairs is one of the most demanding of any in broadcasting.
“News is at the very heart of the BBC. I am delighted Fran Unsworth is taking up the role. She brings a combination of excellent news judgment, authority, management knowhow and the trust of her colleagues both in news and across the BBC.”
Unsworth said: “I am delighted to lead BBC news and current affairs.
“We are living through a period of significant change at home and abroad. In a complex world, the BBC’s journalism matters more than ever.
“I am proud to lead a team of such dedicated and talented people.”
Unsworth, who began her journalistic career in 1980 in BBC local radio, joining Radio 1’s Newsbeat, takes up the role at the start of the new year.
Her previous posts have included the BBC’s home news editor, head of political programmes and head of newsgathering.
She was the BBC’s acting director of news and current affairs for periods between 2012 and 2013 and was made director of the BBC World Service Group in 2014, overseeing the biggest expansion of the World Service since the 1940s.
Former Times editor Harding, who replaced Helen Boaden, is leaving the corporation, after five years in the role, to set up his own media venture with a “distinct approach to the news”.
The BBC was embroiled in controversy after pay for staff on more than £150,000 showed a gap in the earnings of talent working in areas from news to entertainment.
Lord Hall said the broadcaster was “determined” to tackle the issue, and that the “causes tend to be structural – and societal”.
Radio 2 presenter Chris Evans topped the earnings list on more than £2 million, while the highest paid woman was Strictly’s Claudia Winkleman on between £450,000-£499,999