Panorama editor tipped for BBC current affairs top spot

By Julie Tomlin

The BBC’s head of current affairs Peter Horrocks was this week named
head of TV news, and Panorama editor Mike Robinson has been tipped by
BBC insiders as one of those in the running to replace him.

Robinson was Horrocks’ replacement on Panorama when he was promoted
in 2000, and is seen by insiders as having proved his credentials by
producing both serious investigations as well as more popular
programmes.

According to BBC sources, Robinson would be a popular appointment, particularly among his current team.

From
the commercial sector, Steve Anderson, creative director at Mentorn and
a former ITV head of current affairs, and Steve Hewlett, the former
Carlton director of programmes, are also expected to throw their hats
into the ring. Chris Shaw, the senior controller at Five, is considered
to be another potential contender, as is Jim Gray, the editor of
Channel 4 News.

Among those at the BBC also thought to be in the
running for the head of current affairs job are Peter Barron, the
current Newsnight editor, and Karen O’Connor, who is currently in
charge of foreign current affairs.

Horrocks, who joined the BBC
in 1981, succeeds Roger Mosey, who moved to his role of director of
sport in May. He was editor of Newsnight until 1997 when he moved to
Panorama, and won the respect of his staff because he”was very
supportive of tough journalism” and “doesn’t run for cover”, according to one senior journalist.

“People are sad to see him go – and there’s some concern about who’s going to replace him,” he continued.

In
his current role, Horrocks has been executive producer of Brits, True
Spies, Smallpox 2002, The Day Britain Stopped, Dirty War and The Power
of Nightmares – for which he won a Bafta award this year.

Helen Boaden, director of news, said: “Peter has a superb track record in television journalism.

“He
also has a deep understanding of the television audience and the
competitive pressures we face as technology offers our audiences more
choice of news than ever before.”

Horrocks said: “I am privileged
to be taking on the leadership of the most respected TV news operation
in the world. At a time of tumultuous global events, the role of the
BBC in giving all audiences clarity is paramount.”

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