New BBC chief vows to restore 'an essential part of Britain'
LONDON: The new director-general of the BBC has vowed to drag the broadcaster out of its crisis, saying: "I know we can get through this."
Tony Hall, the former head of the Royal Opera House, was handed the £450,000-a-year ($700,000) role after being directly approached by the BBC Trust 12 days after George Entwistle resigned over the coverage of child sex abuse cases. Mr Entwistle lasted just 54 days in the job.
I care passionately about the BBC, about what it can do.
The appointment of Mr Hall, a former BBC news executive who has been chief executive of the ROH since 2001, has been hailed as providing the corporation with some welcome leadership.
Tony Hall ... BBC has an impact around the world. Photo: Reuters
The chairman of the BBC Trust, Chris Patten, said Hall was the "right person" to lead the BBC as it takes "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".
The new director-general, who was the only candidate contacted by the Trust, said: "It's been a really tough few weeks for this organisation and I know we can get through it by listening patiently, by thinking carefully about what to do next."
Speaking at the BBC's Broadcasting House in London, he said: "I care passionately about the BBC, about what it can do, its program-makers and the impact we have in all sorts of different ways.
"It's one of those extraordinary organisations which is an absolutely essential part of Britain, of the UK, of who we are. But also has this incredible impact around the world, too.
"I know that with the right creative team in place, working off each other, sparking off each other, giving each other ideas, you can do extraordinary creative things and I want to build a world-class team for this world-class organisation."
The 61-year-old did not take questions from reporters about his appointment, and instead went to meet BBC staff. He has retained his interests in broadcasting as deputy chairman of Channel 4.
Mr Hall will have to rebuild the BBC's battered reputation after weeks of difficulties precipitated by the Jimmy Savile abuse scandal and a report on BBC TV's Newsnight program, which mistakenly implicated the former Tory cabinet minister Lord McAlpine in child abuse.
That blunder led to Mr Entwistle quitting his post and the BBC settling with Lord McAlpine for £185,000 last week.
Public trust in the BBC is said to have been knocked by the furore and a number of inquiries into the Savile fallout are under way.
On Thursday the BBC Trustee Anthony Fry was defending the payment of a full year's salary of £450,000 to Mr Entwistle despite him quitting just days after he took office – double the figure to which he would normally have been entitled.
Mr Fry told the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee it had been the right thing to do to avoid a protracted legal wrangle.