BBC Looking for New Leader as Industry Picks Possible Candidates
BBC Changes Monday Morning Programming Schedule Amid Journalists' Strike
LONDON - George Entwistle's surprise resignation late Saturday as director general of the BBC leaves the U.K. public broadcaster with a leadership vacuum.
Tim Davie, currently the director of BBC audio and music, has been named the acting director general, but the BBC is widely expected to start the selection process for a full-time successor shortly. A spokeswoman didn't comment on the process.
Entwistle was picked after a search process that produced a long list of candidates, which was narrowed down to four. The final candidates went through interviews led by BBC Trust chairman Lord Patten and his deputy Diane Coyle along with the heads of trust committees. The BBC Trust, the broadcaster's governing body, didn't immediately detail its plans for the latest selection process.
Entwistle resigned after less than two months in the top job amid questions about the broadcaster's journalistic standards as the head of the company had to acknowledge that flagship news show had wrongly accused a British politician of child abuse.
Contenders who were interviewed during this summer's search process for a new director general, but missed out to Entwistle could get another shot. And observers early Sunday mentioned other top U.K. TV executives as likely candidates.
Some even suggested that the BBC could now consider redefining its top role, for example by splitting up its business and journalistic duties. British TV veteran David Elstein, the former CEO of Britain's Channel 5 and former BSkyB head of programming, in a guest column for The Times, part of Rupert Murdoch's News Corp., had this week called for the director general post to become a purely business-focused CEO role and handing its duties as editor-in-chief to a journalist for separate editor-in-chief position.
Murdoch himself overnight predicted that this was a likely scenario following Entwistle's departure. "Now BBC will probably split editor-in- chief and Director General jobs," he tweeted. "Would be much better."
Here is a look at some of the possible contenders for the director general role - whether in its current form or redefined:
The former BBC COO was a top contender this summer, but lost out to Entwistle and then announced her departure from the company. She is likely to get another look, observers believe. ITV News reports that bookies Ladbrokes list Thomson as the favorite to take the top BBC post. She would be the first woman to lead the broadcaster.
The 45-year-old will temporarily step into the leadership role and could use that time to show off his skills. But in first reactions, observers criticized that he has mostly a marketing background instead of journalism experience. He joined the BBC in 2005 head of marketing and was promoted to the role of director of BBC audio and music in 2008. This fall, he was tapped to run BBC Worldwide, the broadcaster's commercial arm, as of December - until late Saturday's news that he would step in as acting director general of the BBC. If the role was split, he could take the role that focuses on the business aspects.
Richards is the CEO of U.K. media regulator Ofcom and threw his hat into the ring for the top BBC job earlier this year.
He was mentioned as one of the final four candidates in the director general search, which could possibly allow him another shot.