AN ARCHIVE OF NEWSPAPER COMMENT, TWEETS, GOSSIP AND MORE COVERING THE RECRUITMENT OF GEORGE ENTWISTLE AS DIRECTOR GENERAL OF THE BBC; HE RESIGNED ON 10TH NOVEMBER 2012
Sunday 11th July..
A new site starts....
Wednesday 4th July
It's George Entwistle, 49, BBC Director of Vision. He was always short odds with the bookies, starting at around 7/4, then only briefly drifting to 4/1. Congratulations to Quentin Letts, who quoted an unnamed Cabinet Minister as tipping George. Toby Syfret at Enders Analysis also went early for George.
The next director general of the BBC is expected to be named on Wednesday after the second round of interviews took place on Tuesday. Those understood to have made it through to the final shortlist for the most powerful job in UK broadcasting include the BBC chief operating officer, Caroline Thomson, the BBC Vision director, George Entwistle, and the Ofcom chief executive, Ed Richards. There is speculation that there is a fourth candidate but their name is as yet unknown
Monday 2nd July Ian Burrell in The Independent
... it is looking unlikely that we will be getting our first female director general of the BBC, in spite of Caroline Thomson, the chief operating officer, and Helen Boaden, director of news, being among the early front-runners.
Saturday 30th June: Statement from FT to The Guardian
"Reports in the press that Lionel Barber has been interviewed for the role of the Director General of the BBC are incorrect"
Friday 29th June: Hugh Muir's Diary in The Guardian
The runners and riders for the right to follow Mark Thompson as BBC director general have been whittled down for the second-round interviews. But who is in the field bar the obvious internal candidates who have not, the Diary gathers, overwhelmed the chair of the BBC Trust Lord Patten? Among the outsiders who still loom large in the chair's mind are said to be Financial Times editor Lionel Barber, Channel 4 creative supremo Jay Hunt, the omnipresent Ofcom chief Ed Richards. And one surprise – John Berry, artistic director of the English National Opera. The Radio 3 candidate. Quiet please.
Wednesday 27th June London Evening Standard: Media Analysis by Roy Greenslade
So who of the supposed eight candidates can best do the job, given its scale and complexity? Of the four internal candidates — Helen Boaden, director of BBC News, Tim Davie, director of audio and music, George Entwistle, director of BBC Vision and Caroline Thomson, chief operating officer — I have previously favoured Boaden. News is fundamental to the corporation’s output and I still think she is in with a shout.
We know one of the external quartet of candidates who has been interviewed — the Ofcom chief executive Ed Richards. He is a clever chap with plenty of political nous but totally without broadcasting experience.
One other possible outsider is said to be Financial Times editor Lionel Barber, who would be an interesting choice. He certainly knows how to lead but, like Richards, has not worked in TV and radio. I cannot really imagine a BBC director-general without any grounding in either the corporation or in broadcasting. So, unless there is a dark horse, it will be an inside appointment. Lord Patten must choose well to ensure the BBC regains its kudos.
Monday 25th June London Evening Standard
The race to be BBC director-general is wide open with up to 10 candidates getting first-round interviews, senior broadcasting figures said today. The BBC Trust will conduct second-round interviews with four or five candidates in the coming days. “External candidates have been very good at keeping their heads below the parapet,” said a source close to the process. Ed Richards, chief executive of regulator Ofcom, is the only confirmed external candidate. Four internal BBC hopefuls have applied: head of vision George Entwistle; head of news Helen Boaden; head of audio and music Tim Davie; and chief operating officer Caroline Thomson. It is thought there at least four external candidates, with reports of at least one surprise “international” contender, prolonging the interview process, which could now take until early July.
Friday 22nd June: Ofcom letter to The Times
The article, ‘Ofcom chief’s bid for top job at the BBC raises questions over conflict of interest’ (22 June 2012), gives an inaccurate and therefore misleading account of how potential conflicts of interest have been handled at Ofcom. Robust procedures, agreed by the Ofcom Board, have been put in place to avoid any potential conflicts of interest. These were enacted on 8 May, immediately after Ofcom CEO Ed Richards applied for the BBC Director General role.
Ed Richards made the decision to apply on the weekend before the deadline because this was a major personal decision. It is untrue that the reason was “in order to stay involved in BBC matters”. As Ofcom has explained to The Times, the Ofcom Board agreed and finalised the contents of the report on measuring media plurality and Ed Richards was not involved in this.
Colette Bowe Chairman, Ofcom
Wednesday 20th June: Media Monkey in The Guardian
Rumours are fun, but speculation can be tedious. Jay Hunt, supposedly, was seen at the BBC on Thursday at last week, no doubt having snuck out of Horseferry Road via one of the holes on the set of Million Pound Drop – a tale so entertaining that it has prompted a slew of phone calls to Channel 4 demanding to know if the programming supremo is indeed in the running for the director generalship of the BBC. "It's nonsense," says Hunt – who, in any event, spent Thursday at the C4 headquarters much in the way that Gordon Ramsay spends a day in Brixton Prison. Inside. Hunt, Monkey is reliably informed, is "sure she'd remember if she'd been interviewed" and will not be interviewed, which means she has no need to dress like Grayson Perry in order to slip past David Abraham and go back to her desk either.
Ray Snoddy Tweet
Tuesday 19th June: Hugh Muir in The Guardian
And still we wait to learn who will seize the crown that is director general of the BBC, when Mark Thompson makes his exit. Will it be Ofcom boss Ed Richards, subject of another hatchet job yesterday in the Daily Mail? Or Caroline Thomson, the chief operating officer? Helen Boaden, director of BBC News? Or indeed the internal favourite, George Entwistle, director of BBC Vision? We don't know. We know it won't be David Abraham, head of C4, for he ruled himself out of the race early on. But, as an ambitious sort, he may therefore be surprised to learn that Jay Hunt, his chief creative officer, was designated a person of interest by headhunter Egon Zehnder and Lord Patten, chair of the BBC Trust. Hunt, you may recall, was previously a BBC1 controller and much maligned over the Miriam O'Reilly ageism scandal, which saw the presenter avenge her sudden axing from the Countryfile programme with a tribunal victory and hefty damages. Hunt's return would make life interesting. Ex-colleagues have the smelling salts ready.
Thursday 15th June:
Monday 11th June: London Evening Standard
Interviews for the next BBC director-general begin this week amid recriminations over the flotilla coverage. Most national newspapers have noted this but the FT has scant mention of the race to succeed Mark Thompson. Could FT editor Lionel Barber be too busy shining his own shoes for a job interview?
Steve Richards in The Independent, on the issues facing Lord Patten
His main concerns are the correct ones – the level of executive remuneration, the related issue of the number of managers, and a tendency for a small, but significant, part of the output to lapse into unconvincing populism. These concerns are also expressed to him by senior figures from all political parties and from within the Beeb. When the BBC still published an in-house newspaper, Patten would circle the posts advertised that he regarded as non-jobs. There were many circles. Privately, he was telling senior managers long before the Jubilee about his worries in relation to populism. Those close to him say he is also aware that, so far, managerial cuts have been achieved largely by "tricks and mirrors". Nonetheless, he remains a devotee of the BBC, a Conservative unfazed by comically unjustified attacks from Conservative newspapers about bias. John Birt was never a popular DG internally, but the BBC could do with some Birtist rigour and sense of distinctive mission. I suspect Patten agrees. One of his last tasks in an extraordinary career is to ensure the next DG agrees, too.
Monday 4th June: Dan Sabbagh in The Guardian
Ed Richards must be an optimist. The Ofcom chief executive may have made the shortlist for the top executive job at the BBC. But it would be interesting to listen to the phonecall from Lord Patten to Jeremy Hunt, who looks set to endure as secretary of state for culture, media and sport this side of the Olympics, in which the BBC Trust chairman tells him that his choice was a former political adviser to both Tony Blair and Gordon Brown. Hunt, whose amicable exterior belies a certain tribalism, as judged by his emails critical of "Mark Thompson/Guardian/Channel 4" thinking, might not be terribly impressed.
Saturday 2 June: Variety reports
Outside the company, the favorite to take over from Thompson is Ed Richards, a former BBC strategy head who's currently the CEO of U.K. media regulator Ofcom. Richards lacks creative experience, but that may not be a problem in the current environment. For the first time, the job spec of director-general prizes experience in international operations over that in programming or journalism.....
In some quarters, there is even a suggestion that the job spec was written with Richards, a former aide to ex-Prime Minister Tony Blair, in mind. Patten, who served ex-Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher as the last governor of Hong Kong, is likely to favor someone who will not be reluctant to do his bidding on occasion.
Still, there is astonishment that the preferred candidate could be someone lacking editorial experience. [Ray] Snoddy speaks for many in the U.K. broadcasting community when he says that considering a BBC director general without a background in journalism or production is "insane."
"The reality is that almost all DGs have been either internal people or someone who has worked there recently, and who have a tried-and-tested background in program making," he says.
Thursday 31st May: Dan Sabbagh in The Guardian
Caroline Thomson and Tim Davie have been shortlisted to become the BBC's next director general, with first interviews due to take place in a fortnight's time for the most influential job in British television. Insiders said that all four internal candidates have been put on the list – with the other two contenders being George Entwistle, director of vision, and BBC News director Helen Boaden, although their inclusion has not been separately verified. Candidates were told on Monday that they would be seen by Lord Patten, the BBC Trust chairman, and Diane Coyle, the trust vice chairman, in meetings scheduled to take place on the 11 and 12 June, according to those familiar with the appointment process for the post.....
So far Ed Richards, the Ofcom chief executive, is the only external candidate to have been smoked out – the fact that he had been told he had been shortlisted is understood to have prompted the communications regulator to confirm that he was a candidate on Monday.
Monday 28th May OFCOM statement
"Given the significant level of speculation surrounding potential applicants for the BBC Director General role, Ofcom can confirm that CEO Ed Richards has applied. Robust procedures, agreed by the Ofcom Chairman and the Board, have been put in place to prevent any potential conflict of interest.
Ed has already stepped aside from all discussions and communication at all levels on matters where the BBC may have an interest. This includes Board meetings, executive meetings and policy discussions, both formal and informal".
Sunday 27th May: Richard Brooks in The Sunday Times
THE head of the broadcasting watchdog, who is a leading candidate for the job of running the BBC, has been accused of a potential conflict of interest by two senior Tory MPs. Ed Richards... has been running an inquiry at Ofcom into whether the corporation should be included in a new definition of the “plurality” of media organisations. This would mean considering whether the BBC’s market share should be limited by law in the same way that private-sector media companies are restricted from growing too big. “Ofcom is not only a publicly funded body but, because it and Richards are currently looking at the BBC and plurality, there is potential conflict of interest here,” said Philip Davies, MP for Shipley and a member of the Commons culture, media and sport select committee. “If Richards were to conclude that the BBC were not to be included in any definition of plurality, it might question his motives if he was in for the DG’s job.” John Whittingdale, the committee’s Tory chairman, also expressed concerns. “While it would be unfair to exclude Richards from running as DG, if he is a live candidate, as it were, he should not be making or taking any decisions about plurality and the BBC. He must leave the room when Ofcom is discussing this issue.” Both Davies and Whittingdale believe that Ofcom should recommend the BBC is included in any definition of plurality.
Thursday 24th May Stephen Glover in The Mail
Lord Patten is believed to like the look of Mr [Ed] Richards. If so, one can be practically certain that the Labour man will end up as director-general since the chairman is good at getting his way, and members of the BBC Trust (they used to be called Governors) will do what he tells them...............
Maybe the most damning charge that can be laid against Mr Richards is not that he is a Labour apparatchik or a bloodless technocrat who has enriched himself on the public payroll (salary nearly £400,000 a year) without ever doing what most of us would regard as a proper job. No, it is that he has never shown the slightest evidence of creativity. He has never made a programme in his life. He is a member of the new bossy administrative class — managerial, cautious, working in the shadows, and living like a potentate despite never producing any wealth. Give me any of the internal candidates, however Leftie they may be: director of news Helen Boaden or director of vision George Entwistle — though I would draw the line at chief operating officer Caroline Thomson. At least they have made programmes, and know something about creating good television and radio rather than simply regulating it. Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-2148983/The-thing-Biased-Broadcasting-Corporation-needs-Labour-stooge-helm.html#ixzz1vlL9IoR5 Thursday 17th May: Blogger Tradingaswdr writes..
At last, some movement in the odds at the bookies for the 2012 BBC DG Stakes - with money coming in for Ofcom boss Ed Richards. Paddy Power now make him clear favourite, at 7/4. Caroline Thomson and George Entwistle are on 3/1, and Helen Boaden on 6/1, alongside former C4 boss Michael Jackson.. Online bookies Bodog also make Ed 7/4, with George Entwistle 2/1 and Caroline Thomson on 7/2. Helen Boaden is 4/1.
Wednesday 16th May: Leviathian in The Economist damns internal candidates with faint praise....
Many are capable organisers. Some are more flexible than others. So far, no one stands out as having the kind of charisma and abilities that Lord Patten compares to the skills base of Wayne Rooney (the footballer) and Aristotle (the philosopher). Either the Trust will have to compromise on its requirements—or a dark horse needs to show a flash of innovative form.
Meanwhile, the Guardian picks up comments from former Chairman Sir Michael Lyons, who echoes the line that there isn't an outstanding internal candidate...
"There isn't one. I don't believe Mark has a preferred candidate either. It is important that there is as wide a search as possible... basically to look elsewhere in the public sector"
Monday 14th May: Tweet from Ray Snoddy
David Elstein the broadcaster's informal bookie reveals at RTS lunch Ed Richards of Ofcom is a shoo-in as next director general of the BBC
Boris Johnson in The Telegraph
In a short while we must appoint a new director-general, to succeed Mark Thompson. If we are really going ahead with Lords reform (why?), then the Lib Dems should allow the Government to appoint someone to run the BBC who is free-market, pro-business and understands the depths of the problems this country faces. We need someone who knows about the work ethic, and cutting costs. We need a Tory, and no mucking around. If we can’t change the Beeb, we can’t change the country.
Saturday 12th May: Quentin Letts in The Mail
If you want a flutter, take the tip I had from a Cabinet minister the other day and place your shekels on George Entwistle, one of the BBC’s more impressive internal candidates.
Sunday 6th May: Richard Brooks in The Sunday Times..
THE head of Britain’s broadcasting watchdog has emerged as a frontrunner for the job of leading the BBC, pitted against a long-serving corporation insider. Ed Richards, chief executive of Ofcom, is expected to apply for the job of director-general, which will become vacant when Mark Thompson leaves in the autumn.........
Richards main opponent will be George Entwistle, 49, the BBC’s director of television, who has worked for the corporation for 23 years. A report commissioned for the BBC trustees — chaired by Lord Patten, the former Tory cabinet minister — singles out Entwistle as the best qualified internal candidate, editorially and in terms of experience.
Entwistle has emerged as the favourite in the past week. He is liked by Patten, an important factor because the chairman and director-general need to work together.
Thursday 3rd May: Dan Sabbagh and Tara Conlan in The Guardian..
David Abraham, Channel 4's chief executive, will not apply to become the next leader of the BBC, a path that was successfully trodden by the incumbent director general Mark Thompson eight years ago. The boss of the Homeland broadcaster has told friends he believes that it is too soon to contemplate leaving Channel 4, having only spent two years in the job and recruited most of its senior team.....
It is understood that Jana Bennett, the former BBC Vision boss, now president of worldwide networks and global iPlayer at the corporation's commercial arm BBC Worldwide, is also considering applying, but that BBC North director Peter Salmon is not going to put his name forward.......
Tony Hall, the well regarded Royal Opera House chief executive, who previously ran BBC News, is also not applying, despite speculation to the contrary at the corporation...
Dominic Loehnis from Egon Zehnder has been talking to a number of people within the industry to gauge opinion, including, it is understood, Channel 4's chief creative officer, Jay Hunt.
LONDON -- ABC Entertainment Group prexy Paul Lee is being courted for the top job at the BBC. It's understood that Beeb-affiliated execs have reached out to the Alphabet topper in recent weeks, though sources say that Lee has no intent of taking the post. Lee is coming off a strong season at ABC in which the network fielded successful new series in "Once Upon a Time," "Revenge" and "Suburgatory," plus other promising newcomers...
Lee first joined the BBC in 1984 as a general trainee and in 1990 moved to drama, where he produced, directed and wrote TV movies. He ultimately served as channel editor for BBC Prime, the company's 24-hour entertainment channel.
Thursday 26th April: Londoner Diary in the Evening Standard
Is the BBC’s televisual rottweiler Jeremy Paxman looking for a promotion? The Londoner understands that the Newsnight presenter could be gunning to become the next director-general. Rumour has it that Paxman has formally applied for the position, which the BBC is advertising since Mark Thompson announced his intention to step down later this year. ..... . The Londoner has left messages for Paxman all over the place but he hasn’t responded.
Monday 23rd April: Londoner Diary in the Evening Standard:
Last month, the Londoner noted that the upper echelons of the BBC mentioned the name of the Financial Times editor Lionel Barber as a potential successor to current director- general Mark Thompson. The BBC Trust’s chairman Lord Patten is thought to be keen to interview outside candidates as well as the big beasts within the BBC. Now a new name has entered the frame, that of English National Opera director John Berry. “Patten knows Berry and is said to have been impressed by his overhaul of the National Opera,” says Prospect magazine.
Richard Kay in the Daily Mail
....bad news for staffers who hoped ex-Radio 4 boss Mark Damazer, seen as a dark horse candidate, would apply. Damazer, who quit 18 months ago to be Master of St Peter’s College, Oxford, tells me he has ruled himself out. ‘I haven’t applied and I haven’t been invited to apply,’ he says candidly. ‘I’m still passionate about the institution and will watch how it turns out.’ Nonetheless, Ladbrokes has slashed Damazer’s odds from 20/1 to 8/1 after taking several large bets. The closing date for applications is not until May 7.
Friday 20th April: Ephraim Hardcastle in the Mail:
Tory MP Robert Halfon tables an early day motion suggesting the BBC’s new Director General should be elected by licence fee-payers. They could make a TV series about it, with candidates debating on Newsnight. Better than the shifty, ongoing consultative process overseen by the BBC Trust’s chairman Lord Patten, who has been rewarded egregiously with plum public jobs since losing his Tory seat in Bath 20 years ago.
Tuesday 17th April: Michael Crick, at Channel 4, blogs on the political connections of the leading candidates...
Given persistent accusations from UKIP and the Tory right that the BBC is too pro-EU, could a former European Commissioner, appoint to the top BBC job, the daughter of another European Commissioner, who is also the wife of a former adviser to two more EU Commissioners? Yes, he could, but not without some political fuss.
Monday 16h April: Steve Hewlett still pining for John Birt in The Guardian
Chronic over-management will have to be tackled and in-house production will have to prove itself against the market. Indeed it could be that the key task for the next director general will be a ruthless reappraisal of all the BBC's functions and processes with a genuinely radical eye on efficiency and outcomes for licence payers.
Look again at the "role specification" and there they are – "change leadership" and "strategic thinking". And unlike an editorial background, both in the "must have" column. The ability to make key editorial decisions, lead a creative organisation and, critically, a senior team, and being able to speak with credibility to audiences and stakeholders inside and out are all essential.
But ultimately the key factor distinguishing the candidates may well come down to their appetite for radical change and, critically, their ability to see where and how to deliver it. Let the Birt revolution recommence.
Tuesday 10th April; Tara Conlan in The Guardian, reports on Lord Patten briefing The Trust on DG recruitment progress
One insider said the chairman said that whoever got the job would have a hard act to follow and, with characteristic humour said Thompson's successor would have to have "the wisdom of Aristotle" as well as the "striking power of Wayne Rooney".
As is usual, a long and short list will be drawn up and an appointment is due to be made by June.
The internal favourites are thought to be Caroline Thomson, the BBC's chief operating officer who has helped steer the corporation through a previous charter review, director of news Helen Boaden and director of vision George Entwistle.
One source claimed that so far the list of external candidates who are the right age and have the right experience has "fallen short" of expectations.