BBC careerist George Entwistle named BBC's new Director General

 

George Entwistle, a BBC careerist and former editor of Newsnight, has been chosen as the next Director General of the BBC.

The appointment means that, in 85 years of history, the organisation still has not appointed a woman to its senior role. Caroline Thomson, the BBC’s Chief Operating Officer, was among those on the final short list.

In selecting Entwistle, the BBC Trust also rejected the more radical option of giving the job to an external candidate. Ed Richards, the chief executive of the media regulator Ofcom, had been regarded as a strong contender for the role.

Entwistle has a stronger background in programme-making than the other final candidates and his appointment was well-received in the newsrooms of the BBC. Announcing the decision yesterday, BBC Trust chairman Lord Patten said: “His experience of making and delivering great programmes that audiences love – built up through many years of working for the corporation – will prove invaluable as he and his team work to ensure the BBC remains the greatest broadcaster in the world.”

The new Director General will have to take the BBC through a turbulent period of budget cuts resulting from the last licence fee settlement and Lord Patten said Entwistle could be relied on to maintain the unique values of the organisation. “Above all, George is passionate about the BBC, is committed to its public service ethos and has a clear vision for how it can harness the creativity and commitment of its staff to continue to serve audiences in ever more innovative ways.”

Entwistle, 49, will be paid a salary of £450,000, a large increase on his current £270,000 earnings as BBC Director of Vision but less than the £617,000 salary of Mark Thompson. He said: “I’m delighted that the chairman and trustees have decided I’m the right person for the job. And I’m very excited about all that lies ahead. I love the BBC and it’s a privilege to be asked to lead it into the next stage of its creative life.”

Richards, a former Controller of Corporate Strategy at the BBC, had applied for the Director General’s job in May but his candidacy was opposed by right wing media commentators who pointed to his previous links to the Labour Party as a political advisor. 

In a statement, Ms Thomson said she was “very disappointed” but expressed confidence in her BBC colleague’s abilities. “If it couldn’t have been me then George is absolutely the right choice. He has public service broadcasting running through him and I will support him in every way as he works into the job.”

During his career, Entwistle has largely avoided controversy while rising through the BBC. His most difficult period came during his time as editor of “Newsnight” when he became embroiled in the David Kelly affair after the programme’s science editor Susan Watts told him that the weapons inspector was a source of her reports on Iraq’s military capabilities. As a result of “Newsnight” carrying the story, Entwistle was sucked into Lord Hutton’s inquiry into the BBC, which threatened to engulf the organisation.

Mark Thompson: A tough act to follow

Mark Thompson, who Lord Patten said yesterday would be "sorely missed", was one of the longest-serving BBC Director-Generals in modern times.

His eight-year tenure, matched only by John Birt during the last 35 years, spanned one of the most turbulent periods in the BBC's history when its traditional funding mechanism of the licence fee came under threat.

Thompson, 54, a former editor of the "Nine O'Clock News", joined the BBC from Channel 4 in the wake of the traumatic Hutton inquiry. He succeeded the charismatic Greg Dyke, who had resigned after Hutton, and took on the immense task of restoring the shattered confidence of the broadcaster.

During his time in charge he has done much to achieve that, although he faced a difficult period two years ago as he faced criticism over executive salaries when BBC journalists were striking over changes to their pensions. Thompson's decision to freeze the licence fee for six years led to 2,000 job cuts and 20 per cent cuts but his supporters argue that he safeguarded the organisation's future.

He can also claim the moral high ground in an industry battle with Rupert Murdoch's News Corp, which has been campaigning to limit the scale of the BBC but has failed in its attempts to take control of the satellite broadcaster BSkyB and has been badly damaged by the phone-hacking scandal.

Yesterday's promotion of George Entwistle is an endorsement of Thompson's time as director general. The pair have been close colleagues and Entwistle can be expected to build on his predecessor's legacy. "I think this is a brilliant appointment," said Thompson of the candidate he had anointed.

A Rotten guest to book on his first day in the job...

The former Sex Pistols frontman John Lydon will swap anarchy for current affairs when he appears as a panellist on Question Time tonight. The punk pioneer, formerly known as Johnny Rotten, will air his views on Libor and other topical questions alongside the former home secretary Alan Johnson and the Conservative MP Louise Mensch on the long-running current affairs show.

Chairman David Dimbleby will be hoping there is no repeat of the Sex Pistols' famously foul-mouthed 1976 appearance on Bill Grundy's talk show.

Adam Sherwin

Suggested Topics
Voices
Numbers of complaints about unwanted calls have trebled in just six months
voices
News
people
Arts & Entertainment
Picture of innocence: Ricky Gervais and Karl Pilkington in ‘Derek’
tvReview: The insights of Ricky Gervais's sweet and kind character call to mind Karl Pilkington's faux-naïf podcast observations
Life & Style
Looking familiar: The global biometrics industry is expected to grow to $20bn by 2020
tech
VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
News
Higher expectations: European economies are growing but the recovery remains weak
newsThe eurozone crisis has tipped many into despair and extremism - this radically altered landscape calls for a new kind of politics, argues economist Philippe Legrain
Arts & Entertainment
Tangled up in blue: Singer-songwriter Judith Owen
musicAnd how husband Harry Shearer - of Spinal Tap and The Simpsons fame - helped her music flourish
Sport
Karim Benzema celebrates scoring the opening goal
sportReal Madrid 1 Bayern Munich 0: Germans will need their legendary self-belief to rescue Champions League tie in second leg
Arts & Entertainment
Paul Weller: 'I am a big supporter of independent record stores but the greedy touts making a fast buck off genuine fans is disgusting'
music
Arts & Entertainment
William Shakespeare's influence on English culture is still strongly felt today, from his plays on stage to words we use everyday
arts
Sport
Manchester United manager David Moyes has claimed supporters understand the need to look at
sportScot thanks club staff and fans, but gives no specific mention of players
News
Strange 'quack' noises could be undersea chatter of Minke whales
science
News
weird news... and film it, obviously
Life & Style
Balancing act: City workers at the launch of Cityfathers
lifeThe organisation is the brainchild of Louisa Symington-Mills who set up Citymothers in 2012 - a group boasting more than 3,000 members
Arts & Entertainment
tv
News
Fresh hope: Ruth Womak and her dog Jess. A free training course in basic computing skills changed Ruth’s life
educationHow a housing association's remarkable educational initiative gave hope to tenant battling long-term illness and depression
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Online Advertising Account Executive , St Pauls , London

£26K-30k + Bonus, Private Medical Insurance, Company Pension: Charter Selectio...

Advertising Account Executive - Online, Central London

£25K-28k + Bonus, Private Medical Insurance, Company Pension: Charter Selectio...

NGO and Community Development in Cambodia

Unpaid: Kaya Responsible Travel: There are many small development projects in ...

Business, Marketing and Tourism Volunteer Projects

Unpaid: Kaya Responsible Travel: As part of an ongoing effort to support local...

Day In a Page

Migrants in Britain a decade on: The Poles who brought prosperity

Migrants in Britain a decade on

The Poles who brought prosperity
Philippe Legrain: 'The eurozone crisis has tipped many into disillusionment, despair and extremism - we need a European Spring'

Philippe Legrain: 'We need a European Spring'

The eurozone crisis has tipped many into disillusionment, despair and extremism - this radically altered landscape calls for a new kind of politics, argues the economist
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A moment of glory on the Western Front for the soldiers of the Raj

A History of the First World War in 100 moments

A moment of glory on the Western Front for the soldiers of the Raj
Judith Owen reveals how husband Harry Shearer - star of This Is Spinal Tap and The Simpsons - helped her music flourish

Judith Owen: 'How my husband helped my music flourish'

Her mother's suicide and father's cancer also informed the singer-songwriter's new album, says Pierre Perrone
The online lifeline: How a housing association's remarkable educational initiative gave hope to tenant battling long-term illness and depression

Online lifeline: Housing association's educational initiative

South Yorkshire Housing Association's free training courses gave hope to tenant battling long-term illness and depression
Face-recognition software: Is this the end of anonymity for all of us?

Face-recognition software: The end of anonymity?

The software is already used for military surveillance, by police to identify suspects - and on Facebook
Train Kick Selfie Guy is set to scoop up to $250,000 thanks to his viral video - so how can you cash in on your candid moments?

Viral videos: Cashing in on candid moments

Train Kick Selfie Guy Jared Frank could receive anything between $30,000 to $250,000 for his misfortune - and that's just his cut of advertising revenue from being viewed on YouTube
The world's fastest elevators - 20 metres per second - are coming soon to China

World's fastest elevators coming soon to China

Whatever next? Simon Usborne finds out from Britain's highest authority on the subject
Cityfathers tackles long-hours culture that causes men to miss out on seeing their children

Cityfathers tackles long-hours culture

The organisation is the brainchild of Louisa Symington-Mills, a chief operating officer who set up Citymothers in 2012 - a group that now boasts more than 3,000 members
Brits who migrate to Costa del Sol more unhappy than those who stay at home

It's not always fun in the sun: Moving abroad does not guarantee happiness

Brits who migrate to Costa del Sol more unhappy than those who stay at home
Migrants in Britain a decade on: They came, they worked, they stayed in Lincolnshire

Migrants in Britain a decade on

They came, they worked, they stayed in Lincolnshire
Chris Addison on swapping politics for pillow talk

Chris Addison on swapping politics for pillow talk

The 'Thick of It' favourite thinks the romcom is an 'awful genre'. So why is he happy with a starring role in Sky Living's new Lake District-set series 'Trying Again'?
Why musicians play into their old age

Why musicians play into their old age

Nick Hasted looks at how they are driven by a burning desire to keep on entertaining fans despite risking ridicule
How can you tell a gentleman?

How can you tell a gentleman?

A list of public figures with gallant attributes by Country Life magazine throws a fascinating light on what it means to be a gentleman in the modern world
Pet a porter: posh pet pampering

Pet a porter: posh pet pampering

The duo behind Asos and Achica have launched a new venture offering haute couture to help make furry companions fashionable