BBC Boss Search to Enter Interview Phase This Week

Mark Thompson
Ben Stansall/AFP/Getty Images

Among the people vying to succeed Mark Thompson as director general are several insiders and the head of the U.K. media regulator.

LONDON - Interviews with what is believed to be a handful of candidates for the top job at the BBC are expected to take place this week.

The BBC Trust, which is handling the executive search, has remained mum on most details of the search for the new director general of the British public broadcaster. The company is looking for a replacement for Mark Thompson who has said he would leave after the Olympics.

The BBC Trust has said it hopes to pick a new leader by some time this summer, but otherwise, the hiring process is shrouded in secrecy. A spokeswoman for the BBC Trust on Monday declined to provide further details about the process and its timing.

The Guardian reported that BBC Trust chairman Lord Patten and his deputy, Diane Coyle, would interview an initial shortlist of candidates at an undisclosed location this week. Some candidates will advance to a second round of interviews with the BBC Trust.

The only known candidate for the top BBC job is Ed Richards, who currently heads up media regulator Ofcom as CEO. The regulator recently announced his intention to seek the position.

Several internal BBC candidates are also believed to be on the shortlist, led by BBC COO Caroline Thomson, vision director George Entwistle, director of news Helen Boaden and Tim Davie, the broadcaster's audio and music boss.

Executives from other TV or media companies have not been mentioned as possible candidates in the U.K. media.

However, some reports have suggested that the search could include an industry outsider since broadcaster ITV hired Adam Crozier as CEO after his running of the Royal Mail Group.

Thomson and Richards are seen as frontrunners, with Entwistle also seen as a strong contender.

The Guardian said Monday that Entwistle fans fear though that viewer criticism of the BBC's coverage of Queen Elizabeth II's jubilee might hurt his chances as he chaired the committee that coordinated the coverage.

The biggest concern about Richards is that he is a former Labour Party policy advisor, which has led some to question his ability to work with people across the political spectrum.

Whoever becomes the next BBC director general will have to map out the company’s digital and international strategy and face financial pressures.

Patten recently said that the new boss would be paid less than the £671,000 ($1.04 million) that Thompson makes and that the leader needs "the wisdom of Aristotle and the striking power of [soccer star] Wayne Rooney."

An ad for the job emphasized that the new BBC head needs an "international mindset" and multi-media skills, but does not necessarily need to have been a journalist or programmer.


Twitter: @georgszalai