2 Apr 2013

BBC’s Tony Hall installed as new director general

New BBC Director General Tony Hall tells Channel 4 News that the organisation has been through “a bad time” but that he wants to look to the future.

Scroll down for the extended interview with Tony Hall

Lord Hall, who began as a BBC trainee 40 years ago, started work at 8.30am and has been meeting staff at the corporation, which has seen its reputation battered after the Jimmy Savile sex abuse scandal.

Speaking to Channel 4 News presenter Krishnan Guru-Murthy, Lord Hall said the BBC had to learn lessons: “What I am here now to do is to say you can’t ignore your history, you can’t ignore what’s happened, but to ensure that we work as a team in this organisation.

“The BBC is brilliant when it pulls together, that we work as a team to create a compelling vision going forward, that we create a new chapter for the BBC, I think there are a lot of big things the BBC can do going forward.

“Public service broadcasting and the BBC has a real future and actually when I left 12 years ago I thought it had a future, I think now it’s got an even more important future than I did then.”

Tony Hall arrives with an ocean of good will behind him. Raymond Snoddy, media commentator

The former chief executive of the Royal Opera House was offered the job after George Entwistle stepped down after 54 days in November when Tory peer Lord McAlpine was wrongly implicated in child abuse claims on BBC2’s Newsnight.

Lord Hall, who was made a cross-bench peer in 2010, also faces low morale at the broadcaster after staff went on strike last week over jobs, workload and allegations of bullying.

The 62-year-old was the only person contacted by the BBC Trust for the £450,000-a-year post.

The new director general was head of BBC news and current affairs from 1996 to 2001.

Tony Hall (Image: Reuters)

Media commentator Raymond Snoddy – a former presenter of the BBC News Channel’s NewsWatch – has warned he will have “a honeymoon period – but it could be a short one”.

He said: “Tony Hall arrives with an ocean of good will behind him as the ‘right person’ to sort out the mess the BBC is in following the Savile and Newsnight scandals.

“He will soon be judged on how well he succeeds – or not – in improving trust in the BBC and restoring morale while coping with real falls in income.

“Just round the corner there will also be the start of negotiations for a new licence fee settlement and royal charter.”

Broadcaster and media consultant Steve Hewlett added: “In a sense, he couldn’t have a better start – arriving when it’s all gone wrong, and it’s not your fault.

“If you’ve got an idea of what to do about it, it’s not a bad position to be in. There’s the sense things can only improve.

Read more: Pollard inquiry - after Savile, how accountable is the BBC?

“He knows the organisation. He’s no fool. He’ll get the right people around him. If anyone can do this, he’s the top of the list. I’ve some confidence it will go well.”

Former Labour cabinet minister James Purnell has recently been appointed the corporation’s director of digital and strategy, but Lord Hall will need to hire a new director of news and director of television.

On announcing senior appointments in February, Lord Hall admitted that “there is a lot of hard work ahead” and that he hopes to “define the BBC and public service broadcasting for the next decade”.