BBC Crisis: Contender for Top Job Rules Herself Out of Running

1:45 AM PST 11/15/2012 by Georg Szalai

Former COO Caroline Thomson, widely considered a top candidate for the director general post, will become chairman of a digital TV industry group.

LONDON - Former BBC COO Caroline Thomson, widely seen as one of the top contenders for the U.K. public broadcaster's director general post, has ruled herself out of contention for the top job.

The post was left to be filled when George Entwistle resigned late Saturday amid a crisis amid the sexual abuse scandal surrounding late former BBC host Jimmy Savile and a report on flagship news show Newsnight that wrongly implicated a politician in a child abuse scandal.

Thomson, who lost out in the final round of interviews to Entwistle this summer, on Thursday was expected to be named the chair of Digital UK, an industry group responsible for helping consumers switch to digital TV, the Guardian reported. Thomson told the paper she was "not a candidate" for the top BBC job, because she was "wanting to get on with my other career."

Chris Patten, the chairman of the BBC Trust, the broadcaster's governing body, said this weekend that he wants to appoint a new director general "within weeks."

Asked what she would do if the Trust still approached her, Thomson told the Guardian signaled she was open to a  change of plans if Patten was "incredibly persuasive."

Observers have predicted that the BBC Trust will focus on outside candidates, with Ed Richards, the head of U.K. media regulator Ofcom, seen as having good chances in the race for the top BBC post.

Acting director general Tim Davie, who was previously tapped to become head of BBC Worldwide after serving as the director of BBC Audio and Music, is also seen as a possible contender. Tony Hall, a former BBC director of news who is currently CEO of the Royal Opera House, ITV's director of television Peter Fincham and former Channel 4 CEO Michael Jackson have also been mentioned as candidates who could be approached about the job.

The BBC Trust wasn't immediately available for comment.

Email: Georg.Szalai@thr.com
Twitter: @georgszalai
 

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