Royal Opera House chief executive Tony Hall has been appointed the new BBC director general.
Currently chief executive of the Royal Opera House and a former head of BBC news and current affairs from 1996 to 2001, Hall was widely tipped as the favourite for the job.
The BBC Trust met this morning to take the decision and unanimously decided that Hall should lead the organisation - quashing debate that the role should be split into two. The Trust directly approached Hall, who had not previously applied for the job when it became vacant following Mark Thompson’s departure.
Hall said he is committed to ensuring BBC news services are the best in the world.
“I believe passionately in the BBC and that’s why I have accepted Lord Patten’s invitation to become director general,” he said. “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.”.
Hall worked at the BBC for 28 years in which time he launched BBC News Online, Radio 5 Live, BBC News 24 and BBC Parliament.
He is currently chief executive of the Royal Opera House and is expected to step up as director-general in March on a salary of £450,000 a year. Acting director-general Tim Davie will remain in place in the interim.
In an email to staff BBC Trust chairman Lord Patten said: “While this appointment has been made in the most exceptional of circumstances following George Entwistle’s departure, I believe Tony Hall is the right person to lead the BBC out of its current crisis and help rebuild public trust in the organisation.”
Patten added that as an “ex-BBC man”, Hall understands how the corporation’s culture and behaviour make it, at its best, the greatest broadcaster in the world.
The BBC Trust chairman added in a public statement that, “from Hall’s 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.”
Hall’s background in news will prove invaluable as the BBC looks to rebuild both its reputation in this area and the trust of audiences, Patten added.
Culture secretary Maria Miller added Hall had a strong track record in leading iconic organisations.
“It is important now that Tony Hall gets to grips quickly - to provide the stability and certainty that the BBC needs, and restore public confidence,” she said.
Lord Patten’s letter to BBC staff
The BBC Trust has today appointed Tony Hall - Lord Hall of Birkenhead - as the new Director-General of the BBC. Tony Hall is currently Chief Executive of the Royal Opera House, was Chairman of the board for the Cultural Olympiad and worked at the BBC for 28 years. He was head of BBC News and Current Affairs from 1996-2001, and had a very distinguished career here. He was a digital pioneer who launched BBC News Online, Radio 5 Live, BBC News 24 and BBC Parliament.
In the meantime Tim Davie has kindly agreed to remain as Acting Director-General and I would like to put on the record that he is doing a fantastic job.
While this appointment has been made in the most exceptional of circumstances following George Entwistle’s departure, I believe Tony Hall is the right person to lead the BBC out of its current crisis and help rebuild public trust in the organisation.
Tony Hall has been an insider and is 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 criticisms that are levelled at the corporation - both those that are justified and those that are not. But perhaps most importantly, given where we now find ourselves, his experience as a former BBC journalist will prove invaluable as the BBC looks to rebuild its reputation in this area.
The past eight weeks have been very traumatic for the BBC. Let me say again that I am sorry that, while the vast majority of you have had absolutely nothing to do with the events that have put us under the spotlight, you have had to share in the pain and the shame that they have brought.
But this is a significant day for the BBC. There are still very serious questions to be answered through the two on-going independent inquiries into the Newsnight investigation that was dropped and the culture and practices of the BBC during the years Jimmy Savile worked here, as well as a review into sexual harassment. But it is also marks the beginning of a new phase for the BBC. And the key challenge will be re-establishing our reputation with the public. I hope you will all support Tony Hall as he goes about the important work of doing just that.