Entertainment & Arts

George Entwistle: Media reacts to new director general

George Entwistle

George Entwistle has been named the new director general of the BBC, taking over from the outgoing Mark Thompson in September.

Here is a round-up of reactions from the UK newspapers.

Peter Oborne, Daily Telegraph

After a nationwide search, intensive profiling and hundreds of interviews, they have come up with - an Identikit model! Admittedly, George Entwistle does not sport a three-day beard. But in all other respects he is a manifestation of exactly the same phenomenon as his predecessor: the thrusting, middle-aged, white, male, ultimately meaningless media executive.

Mr Entwistle parrots exactly the same ghastly language as his predecessor - indeed, one BBC executive proudly informed me yesterday that a memo has already circulated, proposing yet more counter-intuitive thinking.

If [he] can bring himself to pay less attention to the "counter-intuitive" ideas he values so highly, and instead bring back the magnificent ideals that animated the BBC for the bulk of the 20th century, he can be a great director-general and do wonders for British public culture.

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Mark Lawson, The Guardian

[BBC Chairman Lord] Patten has made clear he wants a BBC that is unafraid of seriousness and culture and unconcerned with matching the ratings of commercial channels. Everything in Entwistle's record suggests that he was the candidate best positioned to attempt to deliver this vision.

The challenge for the chair and his new appointee is to solve the paradox of delivering what serious newspapers demand from the BBC - serious and original programming - while also satisfying millions of licence-fee payers who want entertainment and sport which the corporation, competing with reduced funds against ranks of competitors swelled by digital expansion, will struggle to deliver.

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Editorial, The Times

[Entwistle] starts his new job on a salary of £450,000 a year...short of the £671,000 earned by Mark Thompson, his predecessor. Yet the sheer vastness of his identical responsibilities goes some way towards highlighting the BBC's central existential problem and the problem it poses for the rest of Britain's media. The BBC distorts and suffocates the industry. It is too big.

The BBC is in the process of cutting budgets by 20%, but Mr Entwistle should not consider it his job to do more with less. Rather he must steer the corporation towards a model whereby the BBC can complement the media environment without swamping it.

Opinion, The Independent

In his new post, [Entwistle] will have to be everything: visionary, strategist, commander, poker player, enthuser, cajoler, fixer, pastoral carer, listener and talker. Presumably, he interviewed exceptionally well. Because it is hard to see in his CV where all those boxes are ticked.

One of Mr Entwistle's key tasks will be to show that he can manage the BBC's resources efficiently and make necessary cuts. Always there is the nagging thought that what the BBC should be doing is focusing on content. Get that right and the rest will follow. These are giant challenges for Mr Entwistle. The trustees say he is the man to meet them. We shall see.

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Paul Scott, Daily Mail

Undoubtedly, former Newsnight editor Mr Entwistle's appointment has been greeted with a collective sigh of relief within the BBC ranks. And the jumper-wearing Entwistle, who is virtually unknown to the public, has much else in his favour. He is approachable, down to earth and personable, if not wildly dynamic.

But he is also widely seen as "Patten's man" - and, as such, will need to be strong enough to stand up to the former Tory Party chairman. The outgoing director general has described the role as like "skateboarding downstairs holding a Ming vase"'. Let's hope the popular Mr Entwistle can pull off the balancing act.

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