BBC Director General Tony Hall to step down this summer
James R | On 20, Jan 2020
BBC Director General Tony Hall will step down this summer, raising questions about what the corporation’s future will look like.
The Beeb has faced multiple obstacles since he began the post in 2013, leaving behind the Jimmy Savile and Lord McAlpine scandals but facing fresh ones in gender-equal pay and accusations of reporting bias during the election (from both sides of the political spectrum).
Most crucial of all, though, is the question of the BBC’s future in a digital age, particularly as it faces financial pressure from the government. While Hall steered the Beeb through BBC Three’s transition to an online channel, balancing both budgetary needs and a shifting entertainment landscape, the question still remains of how the BBC can compete with increasingly popular commercial rivals such as Netflix and Sky.
Hall’s decision to step down comes ahead of a mid-term review in 2022 of the BBC’s 10-year charter, which was agreed when the current charter was signed. With younger and future generations more likely to watch shows online than during a live, linear broadcast, making it harder to justify the traditional TV Licence, Hall’s resignation will trigger the start of what is likely be a long debate about how the BBC should be funded in the future, whether that’s a continued licence fee, a straight subscription model or something in between.
The Chairman of the BBC, Sir David Clementi, said in a statement: “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.
“Responsibility for appointing his successor lies with the BBC Board. Within the next few weeks we will publish a job description and advertise the job, seeking candidates within the Corporation and externally. We are committed to selecting the best qualified person for the job.”
Hall reminded BBC staff in an email today that “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,” he added. “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.”