The previous director-general of the BBC was selected after a process that involved city headhunters. His successor was appointed unchallenged.
Tony Hall, the current chief executive of the Royal Opera House, was approached as part of the process. However, at the age of 61 he believed the job better suited a younger man and did not apply.
However, following the failure of George Entwistle to get to grips with the Newsnight crisis, the BBC returned to Lord Hall, who had been the corporation’s head of news and current affairs until 2001. His appointment was unanimously approved by the BBC Trust.
In addition to his work at the Royal Opera House, which has received many plaudits, Lord Hall was chairman of the Cultural Olympiad and is currently deputy chairman of Channel 4.
While at the BBC he was responsible for launching BBC News Online, as well as Radio 5 Live, BBC News 24 and BBC Parliament.
“Tony Hall has been an insider and is a currently an outsider. As an ex-BBC man he understands how the Corporation’s culture and behaviour make it, at its best, the greatest broadcaster in the world. And from his vantage point outside the BBC, he understands the sometimes justified criticisms of the Corporation – that it can be inward looking and on occasions too institutional,” said BBC Trust chairman Lord Patten. “But perhaps most importantly, given where we now find ourselves, his background in news will prove invaluable as the BBC looks to rebuild both its reputation in this area and the trust of audiences.”
In response Lord Hall said it had been a difficult few weeks that the BBC would get through together: “I believe passionately in the BBC and that’s why I have accepted Lord Patten’s invitation to become Director General. This organisation is an incredibly important part of what makes the United Kingdom what it is. And of course it matters not just to people in this country – but to tens of millions around the world too”.
Lord Hall will officially become director-general in March, until when acting director-general Tim Davie will continue in the role.