'Conscience of BBC' Mark Byford is made redundant

BBC deputy director-general and head of all journalism Mark Byford is being made redundant.

Byford’s departure from his £488,000-a-year job comes amid a wave of senior management cutbacks at the BBC, which has told the Government that it will waive the two per cent increase to the licence fee to which it is entitled over the next two years.

The post of deputy director general is being scrapped but after 32 years with the BBC Byford is understood to have built up a pension pot of £3.7m.

He will step down from the executive board at the end of March and is set to leave the BBC in early summer next year.

Director of BBC News Helen Boaden ( who earns £320,000 per year) will join the executive board of the corporation to represent journalism from next April.

Other senior editorial managers left include chief operating officer for journalism Dominic Coles (£257,500 a year), deputy director of news Stephen Mitchell (£195,000 a year) and head of newsgathering Fran Unsworth (£165,000 a year).

Mark Thompson, the director general, told staff: “Mark has played a critical role in recent years as the leader of all journalism across the BBC and has been an outstanding deputy to me and member of the executive board.

“But as part of our commitment to spend as much of the licence fee as possible on content and services, we’ve been looking at management numbers and costs across the BBC, and that must include the most senior levels.

“We have concluded – and Mark fully accepts – that the work he has done to develop our journalism and editorial standards across the BBC has achieved the goals we set to such an extent that the role of deputy director general can now end, that the post should close at the end of the current financial year, and that Mark himself should be made redundant.

“Michael Grade once described Mark Byford as the ‘conscience of the BBC’. Anyone who has worked with him – and there are thousands across the corporation – will attest to his unfailing integrity and loyalty.

“He has always stood for the highest standards in journalism but also in all his doings at the BBC. But he has also played a central role over the years in modernising BBC journalism and grasping the promise of this new digital age.

“I have never had a closer or more supportive relationship with any colleague and cannot begin to express my personal sense of gratitude to Mark for his honesty, steadfastness and energy. I know many of you will feel the same.”

Byford said in a statement to colleagues: “Obviously I will be very sad to leave this brilliant organisation that has been such a dominant part of my life for so long. But I know this decision is the right way forward.

“From a summer holiday job to head of all the BBC’s journalism – I have been fortunate and blessed to have had such a wonderful career at the BBC.

“Today, I’d like to thank all my close friends and valued colleagues across the BBC for their friendship and support, and their inspiration, creativity and wisdom. I have learnt so much from so many. I feel privileged and proud to have been a part of the best broadcasting organisation in the world.”

Byford joined the BBC in 1979 as a television researcher at BBC Leeds. His jobs at the BBC have included: head of television news in Bristol; home editor for BBC News and Current Affairs; bi-media head of regional and local programming for Yorkshire and Humberside; controller of regional broadcasting; director of regional broadcasting and director of the BBC World Service.

Be became deputy director-general under Greg Dyke in January 2004 and within three weeks Dyke had resigned, following publication of the Hutton Report, leaving him as acting director-general for five months.

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