BBC Names Former Sony CEO Howard Stringer Non-Executive Director Amid Governance Changes

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Howard Stringer

The British public broadcaster will overhaul its management and programming following a series of major scandals.

Former Sony Corp. chairman and CEO Sir Howard Stringer will be brought on board the BBC as the venerable British broadcasting institution undergoes a major overhaul following a series of public scandals.

Stringer has been named to the position of non-executive director on the BBC's executive board as part of a broad overhaul of management and programming at the public broadcaster.

The changes, announced as the result of a governance review by the BBC Executive and the BBC Trust on Wednesday, are intended to make the BBC more transparent and have managers take more personal responsibility for their decisions. This will include bringing together the governance of different parts of the BBC, including international operation BBC Worldwide and BBC Studios and Post Production, and greatly reducing the number of pan-BBC management boards. On the programming side, the BBC said it will put more focus on current affairs and on primetime drama, aim to increase the representation of women on air and pursuing more creative partnerships with other major cultural organizations.

The restructuring comes in response to a number of scandals at the public broadcaster, including the fallout from sexual abuse allegations directed at former BBC on-air personality Jimmy Savile and a digital media initiative that costs the corporation $164 million (£100 million).

Speaking about the changes, director general Tony Hall said: “This is an important first step in making the BBC simpler and better run. And, I'm delighted that Sir Howard Stringer will be joining as a non-executive director."

Other changes include a previously announced salary cap for BBC bosses – to prevent the scandal of excessive severance payments in future.
Internally, the BBC Executive and BBC Trust will have clearer roles, with the Trust focusing solely on its oversight and regulatory functions. The Trust will only approve individual investment decisions at the BBC if they exceed $164 million (£100 million) and affect the overall direction or reputation of the BBC.

The report said there would be a "shift away from collective decision making to a structure built around personal accountability".

The intention is to avoid a repeat of the past year in which it appeared no one at the BBC was accountable for the various PR disasters that played out in public.