George Entwistle named next BBC director general


Lord Patten announces George Entwistle's appointment as Director General of the BBC

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George Entwistle has been named the new director general of the BBC.

Mr Entwistle, who is currently director of BBC Vision, will take over from outgoing director general Mark Thompson on 17 September.

Announcing the appointment outside BBC Broadcasting House, BBC Trust Chairman Lord Patten said: "George is a creative leader for a creative organisation."

The BBC Trust said Mr Entwistle would be paid an annual salary of £450,000.

It is a smaller figure than the £671,000 earned by Mr Thompson, bearing out Lord Patten's repeated assertion that the next head of the BBC would have a smaller salary than their predecessor.


In his current role - where he is paid £285,000 - Mr Entwistle oversees the division responsible for commissioning, producing, scheduling and broadcasting all of the BBC's TV content.

"I'm delighted that the chairman and Trustees have decided I'm the right person for the job and I'm very excited about all that lies ahead," he said.


I think the Trust thinks an insider, with all his creative ability, will be able to do all the difficult things that need doing.

Improving the quality of programmes with 20% cuts is a tall order. Radical efficiency is required and the Trust was wrestling over whether an outsider could ever really see what needs to be done.

George can see it because he's an insider and as he has a good professional reputation. He will be able to do difficult things.

I've no idea how the Trust compared the candidates but George obviously impressed them with his commitment and enthusiasm to the creative side of the BBC - and he is closer to that side than [the other BBC candidate] Caroline Thomson was.

"Mark Thompson will be a tough act to follow but it's a privilege to be asked to lead the greatest broadcasting organisation in the world."

Mr Entwistle - who will be celebrating his 50th birthday this weekend - was selected by a panel at the BBC Trust, the governing body of the BBC, led by chairman Lord Patten.

Speaking at a news conference announcing the appointment, Lord Patten said the Trust had "unanimously decided" to hire Mr Entwistle.

"George had a lot of the attributes that we hoped a director general of the BBC would have," he said.

"At the heart of them is the ability to give leadership to a great creative organisation.

"While it's possible to do that if you haven't had a background in making programmes, there's greater credibility if you have, and he's got a great reputation as a cultural leader."

Asked by the press whether the salary was higher than anticipated, Lord Patten said: "It's higher than some of you guessed but I can't help it if you guessed wrong.

"It's actually less than anyone else in the sector... or what the heads of several newspapers are paid."

'Brilliant appointment'

Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt told the BBC's Media Show that Mr Enwistle faced two key challenges.

"The first is how you make sure that the BBC maintains its position as the gold standard for quality in British and global broadcasting, whilst managing the licence fee settlement.

"The second thing is coping with the technology revolution. By the time this director general ends his term of office, we will be in a totally different place as far as the broadcasting technology works,

"I think that's been one of Mark Thompson's major achievements - with innovations like the iPlayer, the BBC has been a leader in technology. But I think that's going to be a very, very big challenge."

Mr Thompson, who was rumoured to have singled out Mr Entwistle as his preferred candidate, said it was a "brilliant appointment".

Mark Thompson Mark Thompson said his successor had proved to be "an outstanding leader"

"George has shown himself to be an outstanding leader with an intuitive understanding of public sector broadcasting," he said.

"He has a formidable track record as a programme maker and in recent years has also shown his calibre as a leader.

"I wish him and the BBC every success in the years to come."

Mr Thompson will stand down from his post after the Paralympics, having spent eight years in the role.

He is the BBC's longest-serving director general since the 1970s.

His tenure has seen the BBC suffer scandals including the Sachsgate affair, and controversy over the tone of the coverage of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee last month, in which Mr Entwistle also had a role.

The corporation has also seen a series of budget cuts and staff redundancies in recent years.

Yet Mr Thompson has also presided over successes including Strictly Come Dancing and Frozen Planet, and the launch of the BBC iPlayer.

The new director general's first priority will be to prepare the BBC for the review of its Royal Charter.

The current charter, which expires in 2016, sets out how the BBC should be funded, what it does and how it is managed.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 371.

    I think some things like the World Service and 24 hour news should be taken out of the license fee and funded directly by the government. The essential things the government can fund, the other things come from the license fee

  • rate this

    Comment number 332.

    Mr Entwistle does look a good choice, but something he needs to look at quickly is the BBC's loss of global influence because it has no 24-hour TV news channel freely accessible on the internet. Others do; some (Press TV, Russia today) can lack credibility, but Al-Jazeera and France 24 (and in Spanish, TVE) do not. World Service radio is still impressive, but can not fill this gap. This is urgent.

  • rate this

    Comment number 296.

    Mr. Entwistle:
    My congratulations on your appointment to head this proud information service. Not everyone is as eager a listener, but we Americans look forward to our periodic BBC broadcasts. I have been a listener for a long time. I fondly remember sitting in a Dak Bungalow in 1965 Bihar India with my Zenith Transoceanic, listening to the BBC and being grateful you were there. Good Luck.

  • rate this

    Comment number 283.

    Running the BBC is a mammoth task and responsibility. The challenges are awesome. The new director general has to be a man of vision, balancing cutting edge technology with scarce funds. He will have to take and justify very close calls. There are far too many detractors, arm chair critics who would oppose him every step of the way. Strength of mind, purpose and strong team leadership are vital.

  • rate this

    Comment number 237.

    Why does anyone in the public sector need to be paid more than the Prime Minister? It is twice as much as he is getting at the moment and as a multiple of the average BBC salary it is unacceptable. The public sector should be leading the way on executive pay restraint.


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