BBC News director James Harding is to stand down at the beginning of the New Year, the corporation has announced today.
Harding, whose role covers news and current affairs at the BBC, is said to be leaving to set up his own news media company “with a distinct approach to the news and a clear point of view”.
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“I am proud to have worked for BBC News as we renewed our reputation for responsible, powerful journalism,” he said.
“Even when we’re pedalling into the wind, life at the BBC is rewarding and worthwhile. That’s possible because I have an exceptional group of hard-working, good-humoured people around me running news.
Harding praised the BBC’s director general Tony Hall, saying: “Thanks to his leadership, the BBC has not only secured the resources and Charter it needs for the decade to come but is now set on a course to reinvent itself for the future. I am hugely grateful to him for having given me the chance to come to the BBC.
“So, this is not a decision I’ve taken lightly. There is some journalism that the BBC, for all its brilliance, can’t, and probably shouldn’t, do. And that’s what I want to explore: I am going to start a new media company with a distinct approach to the news and a clear point of view.
“I know I will enjoy the chance to do some more journalism of my own and, at such a critical time, I’m seriously excited about the prospect of building a new venture in news. I look forward to being able to say more about it when we get started in the New Year.”
Hall said Harding had done “an incredible job during a hugely complex and momentous period of British and world history”.
“He has led the BBC’s coverage through two referendums, two general elections, an astonishing US Presidential election, not to mention a series of extraordinary events at home and abroad.
“He supervised lasting changes to programmes and services while also appointing a range of new editors, on air and off, including the appointment of the BBC’s first female Political Editor.
During Harding’s time as director the BBC has launched its Reality Check fact-checking service and secured a government funding boost for the World Service that is launching in a dozen new language services.
Hall added: “The BBC has revolutionised its digital story-telling, taking the lead in news for mobile devices. These are significant achievements.
“In the years James has been with us he’s played an important part in modernising and changing the BBC, but beyond that, he has been a first-class colleague and a pleasure to work with. We shall miss him and wish him every success with his new venture.”
Harding has been head of news at the BBC since 2013, earning £340,000 a year. He officially leaves on 1 January 2018. The process to appoint his successor is to begin shortly, according to the BBC.
Harding joined the Financial Times in 1994, serving variously as its media editor and Washington bureau chief. He moved to The Times in 2006 as business and city editor before becoming its editor from 2007 to 2012.