BBC Director General to Step Down After Olympics (Report)

Mark Thompson - Portrait Outside - H - 2011
Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

Mark Thompson has reportedly signaled to senior colleagues that he is ready to leave the BBC at the end of the year.

LONDON – He’s been the public face of the BBC for almost eight years, but BBC director general Mark Thompson has reportedly told senior colleagues that he plans to leave the pubcaster after the Olympics.

Thompson, the most influential and high-profile media executive in Britain, is said to have told his senior team that he is preparing to leave, although his departure is not expected until the end of the year at the earliest.

A report in The Guardian said sources close to Thompson said he was “psychologically ready” to leave the job that in many ways was the culmination of a career in broadcasting spent almost entirely at the BBC.

Widely regarded as one of the most complex and incident-prone jobs in the UK, Thompson has weathered his fair share of controversies, most notably the embarrassment over the broadcast of obscene phone made by Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross – as well as the admissions that some BBC TV quizzes had been faked. He has also been accused of failing to recognize the role of women onscreen.

But his tenure has included a number of seismic shifts that have left the BBC in a far stronger position than many -- including those who predicted that the BBC would become irrelevant in the era of multichannel TV – could have imagined.

He oversaw the launch of the BBC iPlayer, which has proved to be the most popular catch-up TV service in the UK, and secured a long-term financing deal has been agreed with the government that will see the BBC maintain its current funding model until 2015.

He has also presided over a massive program of cuts which will see budgets cut by 20 percent across much of the organization.

Thompson, who joined the pubcaster as a trainee almost thirty years ago, rose rapidly through the ranks as a news reporter and producer, eventually becoming controller of BBC and director of television before leaving to become chief executive of Channel 4 in 2002.

He returned in 2004 as director general picking up the pieces after the disastrous spat with the government, which had forced the resignation of his predecessor, Greg Dyke.