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 127.

    I see 'The Voice' is generating lots of anger.

    Whilst I would rather be punched in the face 600 times second for 40 minutes by a mutant uber-donkey than watch it - I accept that some people like it.

    What I do object to, though, is the fact that the BBC pays will-i-am £600,000+ for showing up and spinning in a chair for a few weeks. That is over 4100 licence fees - and they are sacking people.

  • rate this

    Comment number 4.

    I can never make my mind up about the BBC; on the one hand they do make some excellent programmes (especially on BBC4 (which has turned into the new BBC2)) but on the other hand they also make some staggering drivel, which is normally on BBC1.

    If they could just cut the cheap talent shows out and shop chasing ratings (why ? they have no advertises to please) then it would really be good.

  • rate this

    Comment number 37.

    Nothing annoys me more than the amount of money spent on that X-factor clone "The Voice".

    The BBC needs to
    - Concerntrate on innovative and quality TV
    - Avoid newspaper driven BBC news agendas
    - Avoid clones of programmes that appear on ITV
    - Ensure quality investigative journalism
    - Don't try and compete with ITV,C4,C5 on TV imports
    - Not waste money being politically correct

  • rate this

    Comment number 29.

    if there's one thing this newbie can do; please get rid of eastenders !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 6.

    BRING BACK FORMULA 1. Lets at least rescue one mess from Uncle Rupert.

    And do more science based programming. I mean intelligent science based programming, not the saccharine sweet common denominator stuff you've been producing lately. I dont want to see Brian Cox on another holiday, I want to LEARN something, something difficult to grasp, something that challenges and inspires the intellect..


Comments 5 of 492


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