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Hall to step down as BBC director general

The director general of UK public broadcaster the BBC, Tony Hall, has announced he will stand down from the role this summer.

Tony Hall

The BBC board is responsible for finding Hall’s successor and will begin seeking candidates from within the corporation and externally within the next few weeks.

Hall has been in the top job at the Beeb since April 2013 and has been a strong advocate for public service broadcasting in the face of increased competition from SVoDs in that time.

The former CEO of the Royal Opera House recently said the BBC will find new partners and funders in future to increase its ability to compete in the global TV market as it faces a “second wave of disruption.”

Meanwhile, the way the pubcaster is funded is set to come under further scrutiny as figures including UK prime minister Boris Johnson have raised questions over its licence fee.

The BBC’s current Royal Charter, which underpins the BBC’s existence, was signed for 10 years in 2017, meaning the licence fee is guaranteed to continue until at least 2027.

However, the level at which the licence fee is set, and therefore the amount of funding available to the BBC, comes under review in spring 2022 – the same year the BBC celebrates its centenary.

One of the reasons Hall has cited for his decision to step down is that the pubcaster needs one person who can lead it through both the mid-term review process in 2022 and the terms of its next Royal Charter from 2028.

Sir David Clementi, chairman of the BBC, said: “Tony Hall is an inspirational creative leader, within the UK and around the globe, and the BBC has been lucky to have him as our director general for the last seven years.”

“Tony has led the BBC with integrity and a passion for our values that is obvious to everyone who meets him. His reforms have shaped the BBC for the future and he will leave the BBC in the summer with our gratitude and our very best wishes.”

Hall announced his decision to stand down in an email to all staff earlier today, which read:

“Dear colleagues,

“First of all, thank you for all your comments and feedback since I spoke to you from Cardiff last week. It was really important to me to set a clear direction for us, as well as celebrating some of the outstanding work you’re doing.

“My reason for writing is, however, more personal. I wanted you to be the first to know that I will give my all to this organisation for the next six months, as I have done these last seven years. But in the summer I’ll step down as your director general.

“It’s been such a hard decision for me. I love the BBC. I’m passionate about our values and the role we have in our country – and what we do globally too.

“If I followed my heart I would genuinely never want to leave. However, I believe that an important part of leadership is putting the interests of the organisation first. The BBC has an 11-year charter – our mission is secure until 2027. But we also have a mid-term review process for the spring of 2022. As I said last week, we have to develop our ideas for both. And it must be right that the BBC has one person to lead it through both stages.

“Over the next six months my priority, as always, will be to champion this great organisation and continue to direct our re-invention. There’s so much we can do to transform the creative industries around the UK still further and to project this country’s talent and ideas to the world.

“Our chairman, David Clementi, will begin the search for my successor and he’ll let you know how that will work shortly.

“We’ll have plenty of time to talk in the months ahead but I’d like to share three thoughts with you today.

“First, thanks to you and your great work I believe I’ll be leaving the BBC in a much stronger place than when I joined. It feels a very different organisation – more innovative; more open; more inclusive; more efficient; more commercially aware. And a BBC that’s on cracking creative form. You all have my thanks and admiration for the part you’ve played in that success.

“Change has been tough at times – and, of course, there’s still more to do. But I believe our recent record of transformation stands comparison with virtually any other creative organisation in the world.

“Second, without question, our values have never been more relevant to the society we live in. As our country enters its next chapter it needs a strong BBC, a BBC that can champion the nation’s creativity at home and abroad, and help play its part in bringing the UK together. In an era of fake news, we remain the gold standard of impartiality and truth. What the BBC is, and what it stands for, is precious for this country. We ignore that at our peril.

“Finally, we must and can never stand still. We have to keep adapting, reforming and leading. Our values are timeless but the need for constant change is ever-present. The BBC has changed hugely in recent years – and that’s going to continue. We have to embrace the opportunities it brings.

“We’ll be working flat out, across the executive committee, to implement the priorities I talked to you about last week, and to demonstrate why public service broadcasting – with the BBC at its heart – is an eternal idea.

“Very best wishes, Tony.”

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