Royal Opera chief Lord Hall replaces Entwistle as new BBC director-general

The BBC Trust has appointed Lord Hall, the chief executive of the Royal Opera House, as its new director-general.

Hall, who was head of BBC News and Current affairs from 1996-2001 and is also deputy chairman of Channel 4, replaces former director-general George Entwistle, who resigned from the role earlier this month over his handling of the Newsnight and Jimmy Savile scandals.

Hall was described as a “digital pioneer” by the Trust having launched BBC News Online, Radio 5 Live, BBC News 24 and BBC Parliament during his time at the BBC.

He is expected to start in early March and in the interim period Tim Davie will remain as acting director-general.

BBC Trust chairman Lord Patten said:

While there are still very serious questions to be answered by the on-going inquiries, it is in the interests of licence fee payers that the BBC now starts to refocus on its main purpose – making great programmes that audiences love and trust.

In doing this it will need to take 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. Tony Hall is the right person to lead this and I am delighted that he is taking on this role. For its part I want to make sure that the Trust gives Tony Hall whatever help and support he needs to re-build the BBC’s management around him.

Tony Hall has been an insider and is a currently an outsider. As an ex-BBC man he understands how the Corporation’s culture and behaviour make it, at its best, the greatest broadcaster in the world. And from his vantage point outside the BBC, he understands the sometimes justified criticisms of the Corporation – that it can be inward looking and on occasions too institutional.

But perhaps most importantly, given where we now find ourselves, his background in news will prove invaluable as the BBC looks to rebuild both its reputation in this area and the trust of audiences.

Hall takes up the post on a salary of £450,000 per year.

He commented:

I believe passionately in the BBC and that’s why I have accepted Lord Patten’s invitation to become Director General. 

This organisation is an incredibly important part of what makes the United Kingdom what it is.   And of course it matters not just to people in this country – but to tens of millions around the world too.

 It’s been a difficult few weeks – but together we’ll get through it.

I’m committed to ensuring our news services are the best in the world.

I’m committed to making this a place where creative people, the best and the brightest, want to work.

And I know from my first days here as a news trainee, to my time as head of news and current affairs, to my time now at the Royal Opera House, that I can’t do it on my own.  Having the right teams working together, sparking off each other, is key. 

And I want to build a world class team to lead a world class BBC.

The appointment was made following a direct approach from the BBC Trust to Hall. The Trust did not approach any other candidates. He did not apply for the job when it last became vacant as a result of Mark Thompson’s departure.

Commenting on the process of the appointment, Patten added:

Just over four months ago the Trust completed a thorough recruitment process. Tony Hall wasn’t available then but I am delighted he has agreed to come on board now.

Of course we might have considered going through the whole lengthy recruitment process again with a new round of advertisements and another global hunt for candidates.

But  I believe the approach we have taken is ultimately in the interests of the BBC and, most importantly, licence fee payers as we have got the best candidate and he will help the organisation quickly get back on an even keel.


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