by Ray Fleming

The choice for one of the most important and influential jobs in world media was announced yesterday by Lord Patten, Chairman of the BBC Trust, who named George Entwhistle as the BBC's new Director-General in succession to Mark Thompson who will retire in the autumn after eight reasonably successful years in the job. Mr Entwhistle who is currently the BBC's Head of Vision (ie all TV channels and programming) will take a theoretical pay cut in his new role since BBC economies have reduced Mr Thompson's 670'000 pounds by one third. The higher level reflected the fact that BBC Director-Generals for the past 25 years have all had commercial TV or other comparable experience. By contrast, Mr Entwhistle has been with the BBC since he joined it as a traineee in 1989 and began to gather experience with Panorama, Newsnight and Arts programmes. Lord Patten has resisted pressure from some Conservatives for an outsider with business experience to be appointed - a view that Boris Johnson expressed in extreme terms. The BBC is a unique organisation and is best put in the hands of someone who knows it intimately. If there is a gap in Mr Entwhistle's CV it is his lack of radio experience; the BBC's radio channels, including the World Service, are in a class of their own and must not be overlooked.


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