Tony Hall: New BBC boss faces big challenges

Chris Parsons
Tony Hall will take over as BBC director general in March (PA)

The appointment of the BBC's new director general has been well-received by BBC staff, but Tony Hall still knows he has a big job on his hands.

The current chief executive of the Royal Opera House will help the BBC 'take a long, hard look at the way it operates' when he takes over as DG in March.

In the wake of a calamitous period where the BBC has received widespread criticism for its handling of the Jimmy Savile child abuse scandal, Mr Hall's first priority will be to restore stability and public trust at the crisis-hit broadcaster.

Lord Patten said the BBC has faced 'sometimes justified' criticism that it is too inward-looking and institutional. Mr Hall will also have to consider this in his new role.

And then there is the debacle surrounding Newsnight, the show which ran an expose falsely linking Lord McAlpine to a paedophile ring.

Jeremy Paxman's long-term future on the programme remains in doubt, and Mr Hall will have to decide which direction the show goes in and how it deals with the crisis.

Paxman himself said earlier this month the BBC 'enforced a series of cuts on programme budgets, while bloating the management'.

Another respected senior broadcaster, David Dimbleby, recently complained that the BBC is "still over-managed and the management still speak gobbledegook".

Speaking in public for the first time this afternoon after being given the job, Mr Hall acknowledged the crisis at the Corporation.

He told the media today: "(The BBC) is an absolutely essential part of the UK and who we are.

"It has been a really tough few weeks for this organisation, but I know we can get through it by listening and thinking carefully about what to do next."

Mr Hall will be expected to call on all of his journalistic nous to regain the public's trust in the BBC.

A former editor of the BBC 9 O'clock News, he had a hand in some of the Corporation's biggest digital renovations of recent years.

The 61-year-old was head of BBC News and launched Radio 5 Live, BBC News 24 (now BBC News), BBC News Online and BBC Parliament.

As his appointment was revealed at lunchtime, the news was greeted with optimism by journalists, celebrities, and other senior BBC staff.

Stephen Fry tweeted: "I think Tony Hall is a really good DG choice, TBH. He's not a "process" man, he's behind the best of BBC's digital moves in the past. Hope!"

His sentiments were echoed by Labour's Deputy Leader Harriet Harman, who posted: "Tony Hall excellent choice for BBC DG. Right person to bring stability in these difficult times. Look forward to working with him."

BBC political editor Nick Robinson added: "Tony Hall shrewd choice as BBC DG. Knows news & arts. Knows BBC & outside world.

"Knows need to justify what a publicly funded body does."

Radio 5 Live morning host Nicky Campbell wrote: "Love all the career conscious BBC bods tweeting what a brilliant appointment for DG Tony Hall is. Brilliant? It is perfect... Tony Hall. Good on news. Good on the causes of news."

For the man dubbed by his peers as 'one of the greatest public servants of his generation', Tony Hall's new role is likely to be his biggest challenge in three decades of journalism.