They've still got the shortlist from last time, but which candidate can rescue the BBC?

The Independent's media editor on the search for an outsider to wipe the slate clean after the Newsnight ‘paedophile’ report and Entwistle’s resignation

Share
Related Topics

So who will run the BBC next? When we recently went through the lengthy process to appoint a Director-General one of the noticeable features of the contest was the apparent lack of candidates from outside the organisation.

There seemed to be a feeling that, following a period of great turbulence where the BBC’s territorial ambitions had led it into bruising clashes with media rivals and a major haircut had been inflicted on its budget by a critical new Government, the BBC craved the sort of stability that could best be provided by someone who knew the BBC inside out. That was to be George Entwistle.

This thinking now creates a problem for the BBC Trust. Because the front-runners named to take over the top job – people such as the former Chief Operating Officer Caroline Thomson and the acting Director General Tim Davie – have both been passed over recently by BBC Trust chairman Lord Patten and his colleagues as being inferior candidates to Mr Entwistle – who we now know was not up to the job.

How can they go back to their shortlist rejects now? To pick an outsider this time around – and there are many who feel that the BBC’s latest institutional shortcomings make this a necessity – seems like a major change of direction and calls into question the Trust’s own processes as a recruitment body.

Ed Richards, the Ofcom chief executive, is at present the best-placed candidate from outside the Corporation. He is being heavily backed with bookies – just as he was the last time around, when he was given to believe that he had a really strong chance of being appointed. That would suggest Lord Patten likes the cut of his jib and Richards doesn’t seem too scarred by missing out last time.

But he comes with political baggage from his previous links to Tony Blair’s Downing Street and his appointment would escalate even further the BBC’s hostilities with the Daily Mail – which holds a deep grudge against him.

Worse, he is another candidate that was seen as not being as good as George.

Chief executives around Britain will have heard Entwistle being masticated by John Humphrys on live radio and watched through the gaps in their fingers the television pictures of the DG wilting in the camera lights as he tried to respond to a horrific confluence of events. It was hardly a prospectus to encourage the most talented of British leaders to take his place.

What’s more the public will have little sympathy with whoever gets the role. The £450,000 severance payment to George Entwistle for 54 days of not getting on top of his brief has encouraged the idea that DGs are rewarded for failure. According to this thinking the next incumbent has absolutely nothing to lose – but the best candidates for this high-profile role will realise that this is anything but the case.

Lord Patten must oversee this process at a time when some are calling for his own head to roll. Let’s hope he gets it right this time.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Spanish Speaking

£17000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - German Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Japanese Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you are fluent in Japanese a...

Recruitment Genius: Graphic Designer - Immediate Start

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Errors & Omissions: Hang on – that’s not how it’s supposed to be written

Guy Keleny
Rafael Nadal is down and out, beaten by Dustin Brown at Wimbledon – but an era is not thereby ended  

Sad as it is, Rafael Nadal's decline does not mark the end of tennis's golden era

Tom Peck
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
10 best statement lightbulbs

10 best statement lightbulbs

Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

Dustin Brown

Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test