George Entwistle named next BBC director general
- 4 July 2012
- From the section Entertainment & Arts
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.
"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."
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".
"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.