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Lord Hall, Royal Opera House chief exec, appointed BBC director general

22 November 2012, London, UK

Tony Hall: ‘the right person to lead the BBC out of its current crisis’
Tony Hall: ‘the right person to lead the BBC out of its current crisis’(Photo: Rob Moore)

Report by Alex Stevens

Tony Hall, chief executive of the Royal Opera House since 2001, has been appointed director general of the BBC. He will take over the role in March.

Hall had become the favourite for the role in recent days, seen as a safe pair of hands with extensive BBC experience but without the links to recent BBC controversies which prevented the promotion of an internal candidate.

In a statement to members of the press he said that it ‘takes a lot to drag me away from the Royal Opera House at Covent Garden, a place I love hugely, but the reason I am standing before you today is because I care passionately about the BBC'.

BBC Trust chairman Lord Patten said Lord Hall was ‘the right person to lead the BBC out of its current crisis’.

Hall worked for the BBC for 28 years – as head of news for five of those – and set up BBC Radio 5 Live. As director general he will act as the BBC’s editor-in-chief.

Culture secretary Maria Miller said Hall had ‘a very strong track record in successfully leading iconic organisations.

‘I am pleased the BBC Trust have appointed a new director general. It is important now that Tony Hall gets to grips quickly – to provide the stability and certainty that the BBC needs, and restore public confidence,’ she said.

Simon Robey, chairman of the board of trustees at Covent Garden, said he was 'not surprised' at the appointment. 'The ROH he will leave in March is very different to the one he took over in 2001. We have a world-class senior team, both artistic and non-artistic, led by Antonio Pappano, Kasper Holten and Kevin O'Hare.

'We have a very large and impactful education and community engagement programme and we are now a beacon of best practice in the arts sector. We are financially stable and we have changed the mix of our funding so that our ACE grant (now down from 40% to about 25% of our income) and our philanthropic revenue is broadly in balance.

'Tony deserves credit for all of this and we now face the future, with its inevitable challenges and opportunities, with strong foundations and very broad and loyal support.'

Hall's extensive BBC news experience is in contrast to the tenure of his predecessor, George Entwistle, whose two-month term in the role was tarnished by Newsnight’s broadcasting of a discredited investigation into a paedophile ring.

At the ROH, Hall is credited with rebuilding an organisation which was in a public state of disarray when he joined. His achievements also include the establishment of the Royal Opera's Production Park in Thurrock, Kent, and setting up ROH2, a department devoted to supporting new artists and developing new audiences (though this was recently disbanded following the departure of its head, Deborah Bull). He established the big screen and cinema relays which have vastly increased Covent Garden’s reach in the last decade.

He appointed Kasper Holten as director of opera (who succeeded Elaine Padmore in September 2011) and Kevin O’Hare as director of the Royal Ballet (succeeding Monica Mason in July 2012). Holten said he was 'the most inspirational leader I have ever worked for'.

'He will be sorely missed at the ROH and by me personally, but I am excited for him about this, and I am sure he will do a fantastic job.'

Simon Robey said the Royal Opera House would 'turn immediately to finding a worthy successor. I am confident that this exceptional place will continue to be led by an exceptional person.'

Originally posted by Classical Music


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