Tony Hall appointed new BBC director general


The BBC's Robert Peston talks about Tony Hall's career

The chief executive of the Royal Opera House and the BBC's former director of news, Tony Hall, has been appointed the corporation's new director general.

BBC Trust chairman Lord Patten said Lord Hall was "the right person to lead the BBC out of its current crisis".

Lord Hall, who starts next March, said he was "committed to ensuring our news services are the best in the world".

The appointment follows the resignation of George Entwistle earlier this month after just 54 days in the job.

Mr Entwistle quit on 10 November, saying that as editor-in chief he had to take "ultimate responsibility" for a Newsnight investigation that had led to the former Conservative Party treasurer, Lord McAlpine, being wrongly accused of child abuse.

Sixty-one-year-old Lord Hall is due to take over the role - currently occupied by acting director general Tim Davie - in early March, on a salary of £450,000 a year.

Culture Secretary Maria Miller offered her congratulations, saying Lord Hall had "a very strong track record in successfully leading iconic organisations".

She added: "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."

Shadow culture secretary Harriet Harman said Lord Hall was an "excellent choice... the right person to bring stability to the BBC in these difficult times".

'Long, hard look'

Lord Patten said the BBC needed "to take a long, hard look at the way it operates and put in place the changes required to ensure it lives up to the standards that the public expects... Tony Hall is the right person to lead this."

He went on: "Tony Hall has been an insider and is a currently an outsider.

Tony Hall - Lord Hall of Birkenhead - had emerged in recent days as the clear favourite for the job of stabilising the BBC and leading it out of its current crisis.

He is an outsider - as Lord Patten, the chairman of the BBC Trust, said he wanted - but he also worked at the BBC for many years, latterly as director of BBC News, where he launched Radio 5 live and the BBC News Channel.

He is credited with helping turn round the Royal Opera House, which had been in crisis before he joined as chief executive, and also the Cultural Olympiad, which had been in similar difficulties.

Lord Patten said his experience as a former BBC journalist would prove invaluable as the BBC looked to rebuild its reputation in this area.

"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 sometimes justified criticisms of the corporation - that it can be inward-looking and on occasions too institutional.

"But perhaps most importantly, given where we now find ourselves, his background in news will prove invaluable as the BBC looks to rebuild both its reputation in this area and the trust of audiences."

News trainee

Lord Hall 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.

"It's been a difficult few weeks - but together we'll get through it."

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, the BBC News Channel, the BBC News website and BBC Parliament. He is believed to have been on the final shortlist for the director general post in 1999 when Greg Dyke was appointed.

Media analyst Steve Hewlett: "He is clearly capable of running a big organisation"

He began his job at the Royal Opera House in 2001.

In 2009 he joined the board of the organising committee for the London Olympics and also set up and chaired the board of the Games' arts festival, the Cultural Olympiad.

He was made a cross-bench peer in 2010 as Lord Hall of Birkenhead.

Lord Hall, who is currently deputy chairman of Channel 4 and sits on the board of the British Council, will be standing down from these roles before he takes up the post of director general.

At the Royal Opera House, Lord Hall has won praise for turning around the business's fortunes. He has widened access to productions through nationwide big screen relays and the purchase of a DVD company to distribute recordings globally. Turnover is reported to have risen from about £45m to £106m under his tenure.

Simon Robey, of the Royal Opera House's board of trustees, said: "I can think of nobody better able to bring stability back to the BBC... He has been a tremendous and inspiring force for good."

Addressing concerns that the process to appoint Lord Hall had not been transparent, Sir Christopher Bland, former chairman of the BBC governors, said it was "absolutely right under the circumstances to dispense with a long-drawn out process".

He said Lord Hall was the "right man... an inspired appointment".

Mr Entwistle's resignation came after the BBC had already spent several weeks at the centre of a scandal over sexual abuse carried out by the late DJ and TV presenter Jimmy Savile. Police believe Savile may have abused 300 young people over a 40-year period.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 217.

    For once a rare achievement at the BBC. They have appointed the outstanding candidate for the position. Tony Hall did a fine job in his early days at the BBC and more recently at the ROH. Those who wish the BBC well also wish Tony Hall the same. A few commentators on HYS need reminding TH was knighted for his achievements. He wasn't born with a silver spoon and has worked hard all his life.

  • rate this

    Comment number 216.

    @170.kaybraes: "Another "luvvie " ex BBC manager with no real business acumen" - firstly a "luvvie" is a slang word for an actor (which he isn't) and secondly he's turned around the finances of the ROH... but hey, don't let facts get in the way of your prejudice. @Barney McGrew did it: "More opera on TV I say" - yeah, just like Adam Crozier brought those shows about football & stamps to ITV? Duh.

  • rate this

    Comment number 215.

    Straight from U&ni to the BBC and as Head of News from 1993 onwards turned BBC News into the propaganda wing of the Labour Party - some choice.

  • rate this

    Comment number 214.

    Tony Hall CEO Royal Opera House "Whichever way you look at it, the next few years will be tough (for ROH). We’ve already done a lot of work on how the cuts would impact on us. Now we have firm figures we will look in more detail at what these cuts will mean"

    In other words: Some of you will lose your jobs but I will get an internal transfer to a well paid job at the BBC ....

  • rate this

    Comment number 213.

    Nothing in the article mentions the fundamental problem, the real reason why trust has been lost.

    The odd bungle and oversight is fine, all big orgs make them no big deal.

    The fact is that a large portion of the population do see a distinct bias (guess which one) in the BBC's journalism. Rather than being confronted it is masked, denied and excused (yeah but they make good nature docs).

  • rate this

    Comment number 212.

    Tsk tsk tsk
    Yet another Oxbridge appointment
    Britain is still living in a 1950s timewarp

    For us maybe, but they still receive the benefit of a 2012 Executive/Banker type salary!

  • rate this

    Comment number 211.

    This is another liberal elite stitch up . Yet another inside job who will follow all the same old policies of politically correct uber liberalism whilst churning out the millions of hours of state propaganda against private industry and education . Yet again the liberal establishment has kept out sensible reformers and we will get more of the same bien pensant lefties

  • rate this

    Comment number 210.

    Hall was ennobled by the labour government (although he sits on the cross-benches) and after leaving the BBC he became the highest-paid boss of a charity in the country.

    So an arty-lefty who has never held a private sector job in his life - sounds ideal!

  • rate this

    Comment number 209.

    I agree with James and I would also like to say I hope he hasn't got a golden parachute payment clause built-in in case of being unsuitable for the job.

  • rate this

    Comment number 208.

    Hope he does a good job and is not afraid to hurt his mates feelings by criticising and demanding reforms for their failings.

  • rate this

    Comment number 207.

    As a taxpayer and TV license holder, I for one am heartily sick of having to pay through the nose for Lords, MP's, CEO's and old Oxbridge cronies to scratch each other's backs at my expense.

    We need total reform of this rotten system.

  • rate this

    Comment number 206.

    The decline of the BBC started in the 1970s when management was handed over to journalists from professional broadcasters, the 1980s 'accountants' compounding the fall.
    So, now, we another journalist taking the reins, and, despite his outside career, one can see only further decline.

  • rate this

    Comment number 205.

    Why does it always have to be Lord or Lady so and so who get this type of appointment. This smacks of old school cronies with jobs for the boys. Plus at sixty one he is simply to old to be of any benefit to any organisation that needs to progress in a technology driven arena. The ideal age would have been someone around forty five then we would know the BBC was moving forward.

  • rate this

    Comment number 204.

    One hopes that Tony Hall will be adept at wielding the broom needed to clean up the BBC's reputation; but Lord Patten should be resigning as he has shown that he is as useless at understanding the calibre of person needed for this job - as he is at the responsibilities of what a "Trust" is.

  • rate this

    Comment number 203.

    Are the BBC taking management advice from Chelsea?

    I'm really not convinced about this appointment at all, but hopefully he will concentrate on continuing to produce top quality output, and dump all that lowest common denominator reality/celebrity/talent/dancing garbage. Probably won't happen mind, but a guy can dream.

  • rate this

    Comment number 202.

    Can we hear a lot less of the views/comments of the self-promoting Maria Miller please? Oh for some decent Cameron appointments!

  • rate this

    Comment number 201.

    Panic choice, another insider well accustomed to BBC culture and politics. With his finger on the pulse of ordinary people from the top of the Royal Opera House! Generously accepting a vast pay package many multiples too big, (a quarter would be plenty) and no doubt big pay off conditions if it goes wrong!

  • rate this

    Comment number 200.

    Coming from the ROH at least he should have some culture.

  • rate this

    Comment number 199.

    Tony Hall CV extracts:
    Time with the BBC : 1973 - 2001
    Left the BBC only 11 years ago after being rejected for the job of DG

    So we have a 25 year BBC veteran and reject selected because he is an outsider !. It seems that the entire BBC including the Trust has totally lost the plot. My long time admiration of the organisation is dwindling rapidly.

  • Comment number 198.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?


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