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New BBC chief rings in changes

The BBC’s incoming director general (DG) Tony Hall has appointed former UK culture secretary James Purnell as director of strategy and digital, as part of a wave of changes planned at the corporation.

Hall said today that acting DG Tim Davie would have an expanded remit when he moves over to take up the CEO role at BBC Worldwide (BBCWW), which will now include a “more strategic global perspective.”

He also appointed the BBC’s existing director of news Helen Boaden as director of BBC Radio – a post formerly formerly known as director of audio and music.

Hall, who takes up his job on April 2, said he is “building a senior team that will define the BBC and public service broadcasting for the next decade” using talent from both inside and outside the corporation.

“There will be more changes over the coming months and there is a lot of hard work ahead, but today’s appointments are the first steps in delivering that vision,” he added.

Purnell, who stood down as an MP in 2010, was culture, media and sport secretary between 2007 and 2008, and then work and pensions secretary between 2008 and 2009, under former Labour prime minister Gordon Brown.

He returns to the BBC, having formerly been head of corporate planning there in the 1990s. His remit will now include running the strategy, digital, communications, policy, public affairs, marketing and audiences divisions and he is due to start on March 20.

Davie, who will take up his BBCWW role when Hall starts as DG, will now have the title CEO, BBCWW and director, global and will be tasked with developing the BBC’s international brand and editorial strategy.

The BBC will now begin the process of recruiting a new director of BBC News to replace Boaden. It is also looking to hire a director of BBC Television – a new title for director of BBC Vision, a role being filled on an interim basis by Roger Mosey.

At the same time, Hall has given senior management until the summer to restructure their teams “in order to ensure these moves are delivered within existing budgets,” promising no increase to the senior management pay bill as a result of the changes.

BBC Vision, the current name of the division that produces all the BBC’s TV output, told staff this week that it was looking to make “significant changes to the way we work” in a bid to save £6.6m (US$10.2m) a year from 2015/16.

The plan to simplify this division of the BBC includes simplifying and strengthening the relationship between the BBC’s in-house production and commissioning teams, with one editorial strategy for each genre, and also creating more effective relationships with independent suppliers.

As a result, BBC Vision staff were told that it was looking to cut 32 senior management roles, and was starting a consultation period. However, at the same time it is also recruiting 22 senior execs as part of the new structure.

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