Press Office

Thursday 27 Nov 2014

Press Announcement

Post of Deputy Director-General to close and Mark Byford to step down after 32 years service

Mark Byford

BBC Director-General Mark Thompson has announced to staff this morning (12 October) that his deputy Mark Byford is leaving the organisation.

Mr Thompson told staff that Mr Byford's BBC career, which has spanned more than 30 years "has included so many achievements on behalf of our audiences in the UK and around the world".

Writing to staff, Mr Thompson said: "Mark has played a critical role in recent years as the leader of all journalism across the BBC and has been an outstanding deputy to me and member of the Executive Board. But as part of our commitment to spend as much of the licence fee as possible on content and services, we've been looking at management numbers and costs across the BBC, and that must include the most senior levels.

"We have concluded – and Mark fully accepts – that the work he has done to develop our journalism and editorial standards across the BBC has achieved the goals we set to such an extent that the role of Deputy Director-General can now end, that the post should close at the end of the current financial year, and that Mark himself should be made redundant."

Mr Byford will step down from the Executive Board at the end of March and will leave the BBC in early summer.

From April 2011, Helen Boaden, Director, BBC News, will join the Executive Board to represent BBC Journalism.

Paying tribute to Mr Byford's 32 years of continuous and distinguished service, Mr Thompson said: "Michael Grade once described Mark Byford as the 'conscience of the BBC'. Anyone who has worked with him – and there are thousands across the Corporation – will attest to his unfailing integrity and loyalty.

"He has always stood for the highest standards in journalism but also in all his doings at the BBC. But he has also played a central role over the years in modernising BBC journalism and grasping the promise of this new digital age. I have never had a closer or more supportive relationship with any colleague and cannot begin to express my personal sense of gratitude to Mark for his honesty, steadfastness and energy. I know many of you will feel the same."

In a separate note Mr Byford told BBC staff: "Obviously I will be very sad to leave this brilliant organisation that has been such a dominant part of my life for so long. But I know this decision is the right way forward. From a summer holiday job to head of all the BBC's journalism – I have been fortunate and blessed to have had such a wonderful career at the BBC. Today, I'd like to thank all my close friends and valued colleagues across the BBC for their friendship and support, and their inspiration, creativity and wisdom. I have learnt so much from so many. I feel privileged and proud to have been a part of the best broadcasting organisation in the world."

Mark Byford joined the BBC in 1979 as a television researcher at BBC Leeds, going on two years later to produce a special edition of BBC Look North which won a Royal Television Society Award. He went on to win a second RTS Award the following year for the South Today programme from Southampton.

Mark Byford held a wide range of editorial positions, including Head of Television News, Bristol. As Home Editor, BBC News and Current Affairs, in the BBC Newsroom, Mark led the UK television news coverage of the Clapham rail crash, the Lockerbie bombing and Hillsborough, three of the biggest news stories of that decade.

He returned to Leeds in 1989 in a pioneering post as the first bi-media Head of Regional and Local Programming for Yorkshire and Humberside. He was appointed Controller Regional Broadcasting at 33 and as head of all regional journalism at the BBC he brought in a whole new team of specialist correspondents across the UK and focused BBC Local Radio on being a speech led service building audiences to a record 10 million listeners a week.

He joined the BBC Board of Management in 1996 as Director, Regional Broadcasting. Two years later he became Director of the BBC World Service and went on to establish the BBC's Global News Division. Under his leadership at that time, BBC World Service achieved its highest audience ever of more than 150 million listeners and won prestigious Sony and Webby awards.

In January 2004 he became Deputy Director-General of the BBC but within three weeks of his appointment Greg Dyke resigned as Director-General, following the publication of the Hutton Report, and Mark Byford became Acting Director-General for five months. With no substantive Chairman and Director-General, he had to stabilise the organisation as it faced the biggest crisis in its history. During this time he led the drawing up of the BBC's Charter Review document, Building Public Value.

When Mark Thompson was appointed Director-General in June 2004, he enhanced Mark Byford's role as his deputy to be head of all the BBC's journalism at UK, international and local levels, the first time such an appointment had been made.

During the last six years as DDG he has led all the BBC's journalism at UK wide, global and local levels, across radio, television and online. During his tenure as Head of the Journalism Group the BBC has achieved record audience levels both in the UK and internationally and won numerous Emmy, BAFTA, RTS and Sony Awards. He devised the pioneering "Democracy Live" website and is a passionate supporter of democracy and the provision of high quality, impartial coverage of politics and Parliament.

He has also led the BBC wide planning and co-ordination of some of the BBC's biggest and most complex projects including the Beijing Olympic Games in 2008 and the General Election in 2005 and 2010. As Chair of the BBC Academy Board he has brought together all the BBC's training and development activities in a new BBC Academy, establishing Colleges of Journalism, Production and Leadership, to build standards and skills across the BBC and the wider broadcasting industry.

He is a Fellow of the Radio Academy and has been awarded honorary doctorates recently by the Universities of Leeds, Lincoln and Winchester in recognition of his outstanding contribution to broadcast journalism and public life.

Mr Byford was born in Castleford, West Yorkshire.

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