New BBC Director General Tony Hall Wants to 'Talk and Listen'

ONE TIME USE - Tony Hall - H 2012
Luke Macgregor/Reuters

The designated BBC boss asks for space and time to sort out the public broadcaster hit by the Jimmy Savile sex abuse scandal and reporting missteps.

LONDON --  The incoming BBC director general Tony Hall, in a hastily convened press conference with BBC Trust chief Lord Patten, said he wants to talk and listen to staff across the BBC as he gets ready to take up the reins at a broadcaster buffeted by scandal.

Hall, appearing at the BBC's central London headquarters standing shoulder-to-shoulder with Patten, said he "wants to build a world-class team for this world-class organization" ading that he also wants the "right team in place, working off each other, sparking off each other."

Hall made his first public appearance as director general designate – he won't start until March 2013 – after his appointment was unveiled Thursday mid-morning.

Currently the CEO of the Royal Opera House and deputy chairman of Channel 4, Hall said told the media it "takes a lot" to drag him away from the Royal Opera House, but he believes "passionately" in the BBC.

"I am absolutely committed to our news operation as a world-beater," he said.

The appointment follows the shock resignation of George Entwistle late on Saturday Nov. 10 after just 54 days in the top job at the U.K. public broadcaster amid a crisis following allegations of sexual abuse against late former BBC host Jimmy Savile and a mistaken news report that forced the BBC to issue a retraction.

The report on flagship news show Newsnight wrongly accused a veteran politician of being involved in a child abuse scandal.

Hall said: "I'm committed to making this a place where creative people, the best and the brightest, want to work."

He ended his short press appearance abruptly, asking for forgiveness for not taking questions, because he immediately wanted to go and begin conversations with staff around New Broadcasting House, the BBC's glitzy central London home just off Oxford Circus in the British capital's west end.

Patten described Hall's appointment as a "new start for a great British institution".

Said Patten: "Tony [Hall]  has a formidable reputation, first of all in almost three decades at the BBC. He's had an equally distinguished record as leader of one of the great cultural organizations in the U.K."

As the hastily arranged meet-and-greet got underway, Patten expressed his delight at Hall's appointment charging him with the task of rebuilding trust in BBC journalism, which he says has "taken a hit" in the past few months.