Tony Hall to step down as BBC director general

Tony Hall is to stand down as BBC director general this summer after seven years in the job.

The surprise news was broken to BBC staff today in an email by Hall.

Hall said: “It’s been such a hard decision for me. I love the BBC. I’m passionate about our values and the role we have in our country – and what we do globally too.

“If I followed my heart I would genuinely never want to leave. However, I believe that an important part of leadership is putting the interests of the organisation first. The BBC has an eleven-year Charter – our mission is secure until 2027. But we also have a mid-term review process for the spring of 2022. As I said last week, we have to develop our ideas for both. And it must be right that the BBC has one person to lead it through both stages.”

Last week, Hall announced reforms to the BBC to move at least two thirds of its staff outside of London by 2027. Currently, 48% of the BBC’s 19,000 workforce is based in London. In particular, a new tech hub will be opened in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, MediaCity in Salford will become the home of BBC Sounds (the broadcaster’s radio and podcast service), and 150 jobs will be moved to Bristol.

The chairman of the BBC, Sir David Clementi, will the lead the search for Hall’s successor as director general.

Clementi, said: “Tony Hall is an inspirational creative leader, within the UK and around the globe, and the BBC has been lucky to have him as our director-general for the last seven years. Tony has led the BBC with integrity and a passion for our values that is obvious to everyone who meets him. His reforms have shaped the BBC for the future and he will leave the BBC in the summer with our gratitude and our very best wishes.

“Responsibility for appointing his successor lies with the BBC Board. Within the next few weeks we will publish a job description and advertise the job, seeking candidates within the Corporation and externally. We are committed to selecting the best qualified person for the job.”

A former BBC director of news and current affairs, Hall took over as director general in April 2013, joining from The Royal Opera House.

His tenure has been marked by major reforms such as the commercialisation of BBC Studios, the start of external regulation of the corporation, extensive cost-cutting, and an increased focus on streaming amid heavy competition and market disruption by SVOD players such as Netflix and Amazon Prime. The BBC has struggled to hold on to younger viewers in the changed landscape.

In his email to staff today, Hall reflected on his tenure and his hopes for the BBC in the future:

“First, thanks to you and your great work I believe I’ll be leaving the BBC in a much stronger place than when I joined. It feels a very different organisation – more innovative; more open; more inclusive; more efficient; more commercially aware. And a BBC that’s on cracking creative form. You all have my thanks and admiration for the part you’ve played in that success.

“Change has been tough at times – and, of course, there’s still more to do. But I believe our recent record of transformation stands comparison with virtually any other creative organisation in the world.

“Second, without question, our values have never been more relevant to the society we live in. As our country enters its next chapter it needs a strong BBC, a BBC that can champion the nation’s creativity at home and abroad, and help play its part in bringing the UK together. In an era of fake news, we remain the gold standard of impartiality and truth. What the BBC is, and what it stands for, is precious for this country. We ignore that at our peril.

“Finally, we must and can never stand still. We have to keep adapting, reforming and leading. Our values are timeless but the need for constant change is ever-present. The BBC has changed hugely in recent years – and that’s going to continue. We have to embrace the opportunities it brings.”

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