BBC Publishes Contract of New Director General to Improve Transparency

Tony Hall – P 2013
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In a first, the U.K. public broadcaster details Tony Hall's employment deal, which includes a shorter notice period.

The BBC Trust on Wednesday published the full employment contract of Tony Hall, the U.K. public broadcaster's new director general, disclosing that he isn't allowed to criticize the company for two years after he departs.

The 17-page contract also states that Hall, thanks to a shorter required notice period, can be fired more easily than predecessor George Entwistle, who quit amid the Jimmy Savile scandal after only 54 days in the post.

The full disclosure of Hall's contract marks the first time that the BBC Trust, the broadcaster's governing body, has shared all details of a director general's employment agreement. The decision, described by the trust as ensuring improved transparency, comes after criticism about Entwistle's severance package, whose size took many by surprise. Entwistle got a full year of pay, while his contract had called for only half that amount.

Details of Entwistle's employment deal only were disclosed after a Freedom of Information request. 

The BBC Trust, which hires the director general, can end Hall's contract with only six months' notice, according to the employment document. That compares with a previous clause calling for notice of a full year.

Hall also is barred from making "any derogatory or unfavorable public remark or statement" about the BBC during his time as director general and within two years of his departure. Such a clause also was included in Entwistle's contract.

Hall needs "the prior written consent" of the BBC before writing or speaking about the BBC during that period, according to the employment contract.

The contract confirmed that Hall, as expected, does not need to suspend his membership of Britain's House of Lords, one of two chambers of parliament, while running the BBC. But he is not allowed to participate in votes. He also is barred from "any political activities" without the BBC's written consent.

According to the BBC, Hall has told the company that he was "unlikely" to speak in any House of Lords debates. If he does feel the need to do so, he would "discuss the matter with the [BBC Trust] chairman in advance," according to his contract.

Hall, who started his job at the beginning of the month, gets a previously disclosed annual salary of $690,000 (£450,000). He can also use a car and driver "where appropriate," according to his contract.

His salary will be reviewed once a year in August, but the BBC didn't promise Hall any increases or bonuses.

Twitter: @georgszalai