Third New Chief in Two Months Takes Over BBC

-By Warner Todd Huston

The British Broadcasting Corporation will get its third chief in two months with Lord Tony Hall being appointed BBC director-general by the BBC Trust. Lord Hall will take his place as the head of one of the world’s largest broadcasting services in March of next year.

The BBC has gone through three chiefs so far this year. Mark Thompson quit in September to cross the pond to take the top spot at The New York Times and his successor, George Entwistle, resigned after only 54 days on the job due to a slanderous and ultimately untrue program aired against a former British politician.

Lord Hall expressed his confidence that he could lead the BBC out of the troubles in which it is currently mired.

“I know we can get through this,” Lord Hall said at a recent press conference.

“It’s been a really tough few weeks for this organization and I know we can get through it by listening patiently by thinking carefully about what to do next.”

The two previous BBC chiefs, Thompson and Entwistle, both left under a cloud of controversy, both having to do with sex scandals.

While Mark Thompson didn’t necessary leave because of a sex scandal, since he left the Beeb questions of his culpability in the mounting Jimmy Savile scandal have grown.

Jimmy Savile was one of the BBC’s most famous TV stars until his death in 2011. But upon his death it was revealed that for decades he sexually abused young women and, worse, the BBC itself helped him cover up the crimes from the beginning.

Thompson was the Beeb’s chief when a Newsnight investigation of Savile’s crimes was axed a year ago raising suspicions that the broadcaster was still trying to cover up Savile’s crimes. Thompson claims he knew neither about the program being canceled — even though he was head of the whole organization — nor anything about Savile’s crimes.

When he interviewed with The New York Times for the job as the paper’s new CEO, Thompson claimed he knew nothing about Savile’s sex scandal until after he quit the BBC. However, recent documents seem to prove otherwise. Questions are now being asked about exactly when Thompson knew of the Savile scandal.

Upon Thompson’s departure, George Entwistle was appointed BBC head, but he resigned after only 54 days on the job due to his own, separate, sex scandal.

Entwistle allowed another Newsnight program to air despite its total lack of veracity. The news program, which aired early in November, claimed that Lord Robert Alistair McAlpine, a former Tory Party official in Margaret Thatcher’s administration, had sexually abused young boys who lived at a children’s home in the 1960s.

It turns out, though, that Lord McAlpine was exonerated decades ago during a 1980s police investigation but the latest Newsnight program didn’t rediscover those widely known facts when producing its program.

Entwistle ended up resigning over this slanderous, badly researched Newsnight program. He had the shortest leadership of any director-general in the BBC’s 90-year history.

New BBC Chief Lord Hall, 61, joined the BBC decades ago as a trainee and rose through the ranks to become head of news between 1996 and 2001.

Hall left the broadcaster in 2001 when he was passed over for director-general. Greg Dyke was chosen instead. Dyke also left the BBC under a cloud when in 2004 he and several other top men resigned over the release of The Hutton Report which revealed their slipshod leadership.

Hall was most recently the chief executive of Britain’s Royal Opera House.
“The only end of writing is to enable the reader better to enjoy life, or better to endure it.”
–Samuel Johnson

Warner Todd Huston is a Chicago based freelance writer. He has been writing opinion editorials and social criticism since early 2001 and before that he wrote articles on U.S. history for several small American magazines. His political columns are featured on many websites such as Andrew Breitbart’s,, and, as well as,,,,, among many, many others. Mr. Huston is also endlessly amused that one of his articles formed the basis of an article in Germany’s Der Spiegel Magazine in 2008.

For a full bio, please CLICK HERE.

Copyright Publius Forum 2001