BBC World Service chief offers advice to successor

JOHN TUSA, the outgoing managing director of the BBC World Service, said yesterday the key piece of advice he would pass on to his successor was that 'you have to keep this place independent (of government interference). Otherwise the game is up'.

No successor has yet been appointed for Mr Tusa, 57, who leaves at the end of the month after six years in the high profile post. BBC sources say reports that Baroness Chalker, Minister for Overseas Development, is a favoured candidate are wrong.

John Birt, the incoming director-general, and Margaret Salmon, personnel director, are interviewing applicants, to draw up a shortlist for the BBC's governors to consider in January. Despite advertising the post widely, there is no obvious replacement. Peter Jay, the BBC's economics editor is also tipped.

Other candidates include Patricia Hodgson, head of BBC policy and planning, a former Conservative candidate, Andrew Taussig, head of European services at the World service, and Elizabeth Smith, head of World Service English language services.

Mr Tusa is also concerned that the government White Paper on public spending assumed a pounds 5m annual cut in the World Service budget for the three-year period from April 1994. This cutback has been written into the plans by the Treasury, before next spring's start of negotiations with the Foreign Office over plans and budgets for the three years from 1994. The cut - 3 per cent of the budget - was equivalent to the cost of the Arabic service.