New head vows to turn around BBC

By Anthony Barnes

Man with biggest job in British broadcasting knows he has to win back trust of public after recent scandals.

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 (ROH), was handed the £450,000-a-year role ($880,000) - the biggest post in British broadcasting - after being directly approached by the BBC Trust 12 days after George Entwistle resigned. Entwistle lasted 54 days.

The appointment of Hall, a former BBC news executive who has been chief executive of the ROH since 2001, has been hailed as providing the corporation with welcome leadership.

Tim Davie will remain as the acting director-general until Hall is able to take up the post in March next year.

Chris Patten, chairman of the BBC Trust, 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 programme-makers and the impact we have in all sorts of different ways."

The 61-year-old - made a cross-bench peer in 2010 - 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.

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 programme, which mistakenly implicated Lord McAlpine in child abuse.

That blunder led to Entwistle quitting his post and the BBC settling with 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.

- PA

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