Dyke appoints '£250,000-a-year' business editor

Greg Dyke, the director general of the BBC, yesterday unveiled plans for a major overhaul of the corporation's coverage of business on radio and television.

Greg Dyke, the director general of the BBC, yesterday unveiled plans for a major overhaul of the corporation's coverage of business on radio and television.

Mr Dyke also announced the appointment of the corporation's first business editor. Jeff Randall, editor of Sunday Business, will join the BBC next March on a rumoured salary of £250,000 when his contract with the paper expires.

The BBC chief said he wanted to see "more and better" business journalism across the network and criticised a BBC culture that assumed "profits are easy to achieve and are automatically against the consumer's interest".

He added: "We need to understand what profits are for, that companies have a duty to make them and investment can't happen without them. The BBC under my leadership will take business more seriously. I am totally committed to taking business 'centrestage' in the BBC."

Mr Dyke said he was from a generation when many people were suspicious or even hostile to business. Few people thought about a career in business but the number of A-level students taking business studies had doubled in the past seven years and there was much more interest in the subject.

Other initiatives planned by Mr Dyke include a daily early-morning business programme on television, an evening business programme on the News 24 Channel and a weekly equivalent of the long-established US business programme Wall Street Week In Review.

BBC Two's Newsnight will also get its first specialist business reporter. Mr Dyke said that for a long time the BBC had thought it was good enough for its economics editor, Peter Jay, to look after business coverage "on the side".

The BBC had also tended to focus on the consumer angle of business stories and failed to give enough weight to their complexity. He singled out the BBC's coverage of the Rover crisis earlier this year. "At times we treated it as an old-fashioned industrial relations story - we even dragged Red Robbo out of retirement for his views."

Privately BBC correspondents said much of the problem lay with bulletin editors who were insufficiently interested in business, a complaint acknowledged by Mr Dyke.

For instance, when the mobile phone giant Vodaphone launched a £106bn bid last year for German rival Mannesmann - the biggest takeover in UK corporate history - the story did not appear in the BBC's main television news bulletins.

Mr Randall, a former City editor of The Sunday Times, is credited with turning round the fortunes of Sunday Business and building its circulation to more than 60,000 copies.

He lives in Essex and counts among his closest contacts some of the City's more colourful businessmen, including Gerald Ronson and George Walker.

Mr Randall has a reputation for story-getting and has made his name with a long list of scoops. Staff at Sunday Business, owned by the Barclay brothers, say he is fun to work with although a hard taskmaster. Mr Dyke said he was confident Mr Randall would make a "significant difference".

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