* Tony Hall, former BBC news boss, new director-general
* Predecessor quit amid child abuse scandal
* Appointment marks "new phase" for BBC, says chairman
By Stephen Addison
LONDON, Nov 22 The BBC appointed a former
journalist who runs the Royal Opera House to lead the
broadcaster on Thursday after sex abuse scandals that shook
public trust in one of Britain's most treasured institutions.
Tony Hall, a former director of BBC news, will replace
George Entwistle who resigned as director-general this month
after failing to get to grips with a scandal that threw the
90-year-old state-funded organisation into turmoil.
Chris Patten, chairman of the BBC Trust which overseas the
broadcaster and appoints its chief, said Hall was "the right
person to lead the BBC out of its current crisis" and that his
journalism experience would be "invaluable as the BBC looks to
rebuild its reputation."
Hall, who will take up the role in March, left the BBC
shortly after missing out on the top job in 2001.
His predecessor lasted just 54 days in the job, widely
criticised for lacking leadership amid a scandal centring on the
former BBC presenter Jimmy Savile, who died last year and has
since been exposed as a predatory serial child abuser.
Already under fire for his handling of the Savile affair,
Entwistle quit after the BBC's flagship programme "Newsnight"
wrongly claimed a senior Conservative politician had also been
involved in child sex abuse.
"The past eight weeks have been very traumatic for the BBC
but this is a significant day ... (that) marks the beginning of
a new phase," Patten said in a statement.
In early reaction, media analysts greeted the appointment of
Hall as a sound choice.
"He is an insider in the sense that the BBC will not be
strange to him, but he is an outsider in the sense that he has
good experience of running quite a difficult public sector
institution, and doing so rather well," said Steven Barnett,
professor of communication at Westminster University.
Hall, he added, was "definitely someone who the BBC can rely
on to get it out of the mess that it is in now."
Roy Greenslade, professor of journalism at City University,
London said: "I'm delighted. I think he's a very wise
"He's a rare combination: someone who rose very high at the
BBC, but who's also done well outside it.
"I think he covers both essential facets of what you need in
a director-general. He has news experience - which will be
essential to clean up this Newsnight mess - and he has business
experience at the Royal Opera House."
John Whittingdale, chairman of parliament's media committee,
said the Trust had been sensible to move quickly in making a new
appointment but he questioned whether Hall would be able to deal
with reforming BBC bureaucracy.
"The area where there does need to be strong leadership is
in streamlining and getting to grips with the bureaucracy and
structure within the BBC," Whittingdale told Reuters.
"That, possibly, is an area where Tony Hall doesn't have
experience and there might have been a case for somebody with
more external management experience."
(Additional reporting by Tim Castle and Peter Schwartzstein;
Editing by Robin Pomeroy)