Thompson: his appointment is being viewed positively by BBC news chiefs
BBC News executives have welcomed back Mark Thompson as one of their own, after he was named the next director-general and editor-in-chief of the corporation.
Thompson, a former BBC Nine O’clock News and Panorama editor, beat current acting director-general Mark Byford to the post and returns to the BBC from Channel 4 where he was chief executive.
Adrian Van Klaveren, BBC head of newsgathering, said it was an encouraging development to have someone “who really does understand news and the details of how news works and how news judgements are made,” in the role of director-general. “I’ve known Mark for a long time.
He is a forward thinker and somebody who instinctively looks to change things for the better,” he added.
“What Mark says about what news stands for and what it’s trying to do will be very closely listened to. People will be expecting quite early statements from him about what makes BBC News special and distinctive.”
One former BBC Television News executive said that the overwhelming mood within BBC News was that Thompson’s return was a “positive appointment.”
With Michael Grade as the new chairman, he said there was a certain feeling of a “dream team” about the two appointments, following the resignations of Gavyn Davis and Greg Dyke over the Hutton report.
“Whether it will continue remains to be seen. Difficult decisions have to made, including charter renewal – but when you consider the feeling of despair there was the night Dyke went, we’ve moved on enormously.”
Both agreed that Thompson’s sojourn outside of the BBC, as chief executive of Channel 4, would have primed him for the top job. Byford has spent his entire career at the BBC.
“There’s this sense in the BBC that if you leave the organisation and then come back, there’s a certain added value. It gives a little more credibility from outside the BBC and a degree of perspective,” the ex-news executive said. Thompson spent 20 years at the BBC before leaving in 2002.
Chairman Michael Grade said the board of governors were impressed by Thompson’s analysis of the challenges facing the BBC and by his track record.
By Wale Azeez