by Ray Fleming

Firstly the Archbishop of Canterbury says he is resigning. Then, yesterday, the Director General of the BBC also. Do they know something we don't know?

For the heads of the country's principal religious and secular institutions to quit at the same time must be unprecedented. Who will be next?
The departure of Mark Thompson from the BBC has been expected. He is the longest serving Director General since the 1970s, having taken over in 2004 when the BBC had been mauled by the Hutton Inquiry into the death of Dr David Kelly, the Ministry of Defence's weapons scientist. He quietly got the BBC back on an even keel and able to deal with the never-ending political and commercial hostility towards it, as well as with distasteful self-inflicted scandals such as the Ross-Brand Sachsgate affair. The licence fee has been frozen for six years at just under three pounds a week for the widest range of first-class news, entertainment and features offered by any broadcaster in the world, and including its extensive internet services, its orchestras, the Proms and many other community projects and, of course its renowned World Service.

The key task for Thompson's successor -- perhaps the BBC's first woman director general -- will be to prepare for negotiations on the renewal of its Charter in 2016, not long after the probable date of the next general election.

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