Press Office

Wednesday 29 Oct 2014

Press Announcement

Mark Byford to step down: quotes

The following quotes have been issued:

BBC Trust Chairman, Sir Michael Lyons, said: "Mark's distinguished career has been characterised by his commitment to the BBC's services across the UK and he has played a key role in ensuring the BBC delivers a world class service for licence fee payers.

"This has been particularly evident in his leadership of the BBC's journalism where he has worked tirelessly to ensure the corporation retains and builds on its reputation for impartiality, accuracy and insight."

Chief Operating Officer, Caroline Thomson, said: "Like a stick of Brighton rock, Mark Byford has public service written right through him. Never one for self promotion, he has always just got on with the job – whether it was pulling the BBC together after the devastation of Hutton or transforming BBC News – with total integrity and complete loyalty however difficult the task. It is difficult for those outside the BBC to appreciate just how big a debt public service broadcasting owes him."

Director, BBC North, Peter Salmon, said: "I will miss his warmth and the energy and fun he generates around the place. He has been a big figure in our working lives in every respect – a tower of strength and a huge support to so many people in their careers. We first worked together at BBC Bristol more than two decades ago, and ever since then he has shown himself to be a natural leader – fearless and full of integrity. If you cut Mark open you will find the letters BBC running right through him. Not to mention a truly encyclopaedic knowledge of rock music and sport."

Director, BBC News, Helen Boaden, said: "Mark is larger than life in every sense: unbelievably energetic and enthusiastic, savvy and instinctively kind. He is great to work with. Always ambitious for the output, he is full of ideas and opinions but remains open to argument. He has extraordinary grasp of detail, process and BBC politics but is also sympathetic, supportive and great fun. He takes his work seriously but never himself.

"Most importantly, he is passionately committed to the BBC, BBC journalism and BBC values. He understands in his DNA that our impartiality and independence are fundamental to who we are and would never trade either for short term gain, however attractive.

"He also knows you can't buy in those values or take them for granted. They require continual vigilance and he has delivered that in spades. I've never seen him panic or wobble in the line of fire. And he thinks about the continuity of those vital values. He has always recognised the need to build them into the next generation and cared about developing and growing people and talent.

"Mark is loyal as well as exceptionally resilient and there's no doubt he has needed to be over the past few years. He also gets things done. Big, complicated, argumentative organisations like ours need institutional glue to keep them together. Mark is very good at providing that glue. I've seen some of the internal and external tangles which he has quietly calmed and sorted out behind the scenes, without ever claiming the credit. I know how kind he has been to the many people who have turned to him for help.

"So personally and professionally I am very sorry indeed that he is going and that we won't have his skills, experience and wisdom to help us through the coming storms. But I am delighted that he is leaving behind so much of which he can be extremely proud."

Ronald Neil, former Director of News & Current Affairs, said: "Under Mark's leadership the BBC's journalism has never been more sure-footed, more coherent, and more appreciated and valued by the licence payer.

"Mark's determination to always deliver strong, responsible fair-minded journalism with accuracy at its core has made BBC News the formidable force it is today both in the UK and throughout the world.

"In a media age where the elephant traps abound, Mark's sureness of judgment has again and again steered the BBC safely and confidently through so many crises with skill and wisdom, and ensured the BBC has emerged stronger as a result.

"In my view the BBC has been hugely fortunate to have Mark Byford at its journalistic helm and the decision to make his post redundant will leave a serious gap at the top of the organisation."

Marcus Agius, Senior Independent Director, BBC Executive Board, said: "Mark Byford has been an outstanding colleague on the BBC Executive Board. At a time of change and uncertainty, his public service values have provided the magnetic North for his contributions to our deliberations. That and his profound, indeed passionate, belief in the importance of impartiality and quality in BBC journalism."

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