Tony Hall, chief executive of the Royal Opera House, was on Thursday appointed the BBC’s new director-general to succeed George Entwistle who was forced to quit after being in office for just 54 days — paying the price for a story that wrongly implicated a senior Tory politician in a child abuse case.
Chris Patten, chairman of the BBC, said Lord Hall, who worked for the corporation for more than two decades before moving to the Royal Opera House in 2001, was “the right person to lead the BBC out of its current crisis”.
He was alluding to a string of controversies that have hit the BBC recently, including criticism that it suppressed a Newsnight investigation into a sex abuse scandal allegedly involving late Jimmy Savile, once one of its most pampered celebrity performers.
Lord Patten said that as an ex-BBC man, Lord Hall “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,” he added.
Lord Hall (61), who will join next March, said he was “committed to ensuring our news services are the best in the world”.
“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,” he said.