BBC director general Tony Hall 'confident' about future


Tony Hall: "I really believe... the best years for the BBC are yet to come"

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Tony Hall has started his first day as director general of the BBC, saying he is confident about the future of the corporation.

He said the BBC's role "is even more important now" than when he first joined it "many decades ago".

Lord Hall returns to the corporation in the wake of the Jimmy Savile sex abuse scandal, which led to the resignation of his predecessor George Entwistle.

He said the BBC was "learning the lessons" from recent "difficult times".

"We are now winning back trust, something which will always be the most precious commodity for our organisation," he told staff in an email, adding: "We must never take it for granted."

Among the challenges facing Lord Hall, who has been chief executive of the Royal Opera House for the past 12 years, is a dispute over jobs and budget cuts.

Even the sun came out. For someone hoping to open a new chapter for the BBC and lift its mood, it was a fortuitous omen, after the crises over Jimmy Savile and Lord McAlpine plus recent strikes over job cuts and allegations of bullying. First impressions matter and Tony Hall made a confident start, as you'd expect of a man who's held top posts at the Royal Opera House and the BBC for the past 20 years. He told reporters and cameramen he felt excited and privileged to be coming back as the corporation's 16th director general. He reeled off programmes he'd enjoyed over the weekend - from Doctor Who and The Voice to the Bach Marathon and the Boat Race. He met many staff, and says he will listen to many more in the coming weeks, as he develops a new creative vision for the corporation, not just for the next Royal Charter but for the BBC's centenary in 2022.

When asked by Sky News whether the BBC needed more funding, the director general said: "I don't know the answer to that".

"I think it would be a mistake to reopen any negotiations about money at the moment because the economy and people are going through some very hard times," he added.

Admitting the "very real sense of the responsibility that comes with the role", he said he would enable staff "to do the best work of your lives".

He also pledged to "remove the distractions that get in the way of that ambition".

"The BBC sets incredibly high standards. At our best we provide a service like no other," he said. "Our challenge is to perform at our best all of the time."

In his interview with Sky News, he defended Eddie Mair's questioning of the London mayor, Boris Johnson, in which Mair had called the mayor a "nasty piece of work".

"I think Eddie Mair was a proper and tough interview," he said. "People expect that when they go to be interviewed on the BBC."

In the coming weeks, Lord Hall added that he would set out his plans for shaping the future of the BBC as it moves towards its centenary in 2022.

"We will need to make the most compelling case possible by listening to our audiences and partners, and building on our many strengths," he said.

Lord Hall comes back to the BBC after a time of crisis at the corporation

A former chief executive of BBC news and current affairs, he is believed to have been on the shortlist to become director general in 1999, but was beaten to the post by Greg Dyke.

Lord Hall's appointment follows last autumn's Savile scandal, which led to a crisis in the BBC's leadership and journalism.

BBC media correspondent Torin Douglas said further revelations about past malpractice at the corporation were likely to emerge.

The Dame Janet Smith Review, which is examining the culture and practices within the BBC during Savile's time, has heard from hundreds of witnesses and will report later in the year.

Lord Hall must also tackle a dispute over cuts, which unions claim have led to compulsory redundancies, unacceptable workloads and bullying.

Tony Hall is "the right man to restore confidence and trust", says former BBC chairman Michael Grade

Last Thursday, members of the National Union of Journalists and Bectu staged a 12-hour strike, affecting programmes including news bulletins.

But Lord Hall will also look to the BBC's future amid rapid technological change and growing competition.

He has said he is building a management team to "deliver a creative vision that will define the BBC and public service broadcasting for the next decade".

He has already appointed former Labour Culture Secretary James Purnell as director of strategy and digital.

One of Lord Hall's first tasks will be to appoint a new director of news and a director of television.

Lord Hall joined the BBC as a news trainee in 1973 and during his 28 year career at the corporation oversaw the launch of Radio 5 live, BBC News 24, the BBC News website and BBC Parliament.

His time at the Royal Opera House saw access to performances widened through nationwide big screen relays, the introduction of special low-price ticket schemes and the purchase of a DVD company, Opus Arte, to distribute recordings globally.

He was made Baron Hall of Birkenhead in 2010.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 492.

    Lol,Better In Than Out, Don't think there would be much fighting going on with a 50-50 split nor in the prison service either for that matter, there will always be imbalances in reality their in all fairness.. The BBC has a quality product but behind the scenes its an old gentleman's club running the show which is somewhat dated now.

  • rate this

    Comment number 491.

    So funny to see so many bitter individuals try and undermine the BBC. I've found that claims of "bias" are usually only made by those who don't get their own way

    A democratic BBC would be better, one where the licence payer gets a vote towards who goes on the board of trustees and to influence policy

    There's one teensy weensy problem:

    Our politicians would have kittens

  • rate this

    Comment number 490.

    @ 488. adriansmith

    I think you should not cease your noble quest for equality until 50% of UK soldiers that die in conflicts are female and 50% of the prison population have (XX) sex chromosomes. Perhaps positive discrimination can be deployed.

  • rate this

    Comment number 489.

    486. Purdue Liddlface

    I think Shetlanders will put a different face on the claims made by the Scottish Nationalists. I would like to be a fly on the wall when they eventually meet! Salmond is full of clap trap who will be found out very soon. Oh dear my 478 comment has been deleted 'for further consideration'!
    Political bias is alive and well at the BBC.

  • rate this

    Comment number 488.

    Also Snaggles one female as far as I understand was in the running for the job. Its a missed opportunity in my opinion she didn't get the role. Comments like yours really make my evening. I knew someone would take the bate an easy real in.

  • rate this

    Comment number 487.

    So funny to see so many bitter individuals try and undermine the BBC. I've found that claims of "bias" are usually only made by those who don't get their own way.

    By publishing your comments, they're actually made redundant - you do realise that don't you?

  • rate this

    Comment number 486.

    @ 478. davidindevon

    You clearly haven't been paying attention to Salmond.

    It is fine to conflate England and Westminster and the English all as the same thing (evil oppressing entit). Scotland, however, is made up of individuals - brave, honorable, defiant. Unless you are discussing the Shetlands and Orkney Islands - in which case Scotland is an indivisible whole (brave, defiant etc.)

  • rate this

    Comment number 485.

    I hope Tony Hall is confident in the BBC's future in challenging the nonsense government ministers spout. John Humphries did a good job with the Minister for Manslaughter, otherwise known as Iain Duncan-Smith, on Today programme yesterday. Don't be cowed by government BBC, tell it how it is!

  • rate this

    Comment number 484.

    480. eurofood.

    An excellent post which regrettably will fall on deaf ears.

    481. chant illy

    Jeremy Paxman might also be a good candidate. No love lost between him and many of the very senior managers.

  • rate this

    Comment number 483.

    Snaggle 447, lol, Your missing the point made and obviously lack the intelligence to compare and contrast the point I was making. It's funny that since the corporation started not one female has been given the top job. It would do the credibility of the BBC a lot of good commercially at the moment after all that's gone on within. Do your homework Snaggle and get yourself more well informed!!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 482.

    Maybe the BBC can tell the Scots via BBC Scotland that most of the oil is not Scottish but Shetlands etc

    All comments on the Scottish site have been disabled for months

    The Welsh, who continue to cheerfully accept the yoke of England still have Englands permission to comment

  • rate this

    Comment number 481.

    They should have appointed Alison Graham. She is the best thing that ever happened to the BBC. Her razor sharp mind and reality check takes on everything possible would sort it all out in one fell swoop and no messing!

  • rate this

    Comment number 480.

    The BBC has turned into a political machine for the Labour party. All it seems interested in is over representing ethnic minority cultures and customs and forcing them down our throats. If the BBC truely believes in a cohesive multiracial Britain then they be encouraging immigrants to adopt OUR culture, not promote theirs! British culture and customs should be promoted as a priority.

  • rate this

    Comment number 479.

    The new D-G seems to have slipped into the seat very comfortably. Lots of paise for the staff and an apparent readiness to defend the BBC against any criticism. Can't see much change until the next self harming disaster hits it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 478.

    Maybe the BBC can tell the Scots via BBC Scotland that most of the oil is not Scottish but Shetlands and Shetlanders do not consider themselves Scottish! Now that would be a very interesting debate that I would happily watch just to see Salmond squirm in his seat!

  • rate this

    Comment number 477.

    Now go and congratulate yourself for the personal achievement of happening to be born within a specific geographic proximity to some oil.

    Birmingham has oil reserves? :O

  • rate this

    Comment number 476.

    475. LandOfTheMushroomPeople

    Nice ship on the shoulder.

    You think the people of the West Midlands, mentioned in the OP, are oppressing the Scots, looking down their noses at them as they extort rent from the northern peasants?

    Now go and congratulate yourself for the personal achievement of happening to be born within a specific geographic proximity to some oil.

  • rate this

    Comment number 475.

    I think some folks in Scotland don't really appreciate how disproportionately large their privilege in politics and culture already is...

    Those uppity Scots need a damn good thrashing
    I've heard rumours they may even want their Independence !
    It's bally ridiculous !
    Set the dogs on 'em I say, show those impertinent natives whose boss

    now where's my horsewhip...

  • rate this

    Comment number 474.

    @ 470. Victory_Parts

    The Union wasn't 'sold' to Scotland it was entered in to freely.

    Your post reveals the truth behind the yes campaign - equality with the average UK citizen isn't enough, privilege - with a devolved parliament, dedicated institutions and disproportionate cultural attention isn't enough - so you threaten to hoard a natural resource for yourselves.

    Good luck to you.

  • rate this

    Comment number 473.

    To the Scots who are complaining about the BBC's apparent political bias against them I do not hear you saying much if anything about Scottish MP's in the proper Parliament (Westminster) making decisions that apply only in England! Not long now until you can vote YES and no longer will you have to worry about the BBC.


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