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Royal Opera chief gets top job at BBC

Updated: 2012-11-23 09:28
( Agencies)

LONDON - The BBC on Thursday named a former journalist who runs the Royal Opera House to lead the broadcaster and restore public faith after sex abuse scandals tarnished the reputation of one of Britain's most treasured institutions.

Tony Hall, a former director of BBC news, will replace George Entwistle, who resigned as director-general this month after failing to get to grips with a crisis which threw the 90-year-old state-funded organisation into turmoil.

Royal Opera chief gets top job at BBC

Tony Hall, who has been appointed director general of the BBC poses for a photograph at New Broadcasting House in central London Nov 22, 2012. [Photo/Agencies]

Hall's immediate task will be to rebuild the confidence and image of a news organisation buffeted by the fallout from a scandal centred on former BBC presenter Jimmy Savile, who died at 84 last year and has since been exposed as one of Britain's most prolific, predatory child abusers.

"I care passionately about the BBC, about what it can do, its programme makers and the impact we have," Hall told reporters.

"It's one of those extraordinary organisations which is an absolutely essential part of the UK, of Britain, of who we are, but also has this incredible impact around the world, too."

Chris Patten, chairman of the BBC Trust which overseas the broadcaster and appoints its director-general, said Hall had been the only candidate approached, but denied there had been any external pressure to rush the appointment.

"I'm delighted that in moving fast we've also managed to find the out-and-out outstanding candidate," said Patten, who has warned that the future of the publicly-funded broadcaster was at risk unless it underwent radical reform.

"If we'd spent the next four months on this, you would have all been telling us we were off our trolleys and quite properly as well," he added.

A series of senior BBC managers have stood aside while investigations continue into serious editorial failings, leaving the broadcaster vulnerable to claims it lacks leadership.

Patten said Hall was "the right person to lead the BBC out of its current crisis" and that his journalism experience would be "invaluable as the BBC looks to rebuild its reputation".

Hall, 61, who will take up the role in March, left the BBC shortly after missing out on the top job in 2001.

He will also face the task of streamlining an overly bureaucratic institution accused by its journalists of being top-heavy with multiple layers of management.

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