LONDON – BBC Director General Mark Thompson is to step down in the fall following the London 2012 Olympics.
Thompson has headed up the public broadcaster for nearly eight years, making him the BBC’s longest-serving director general since the 1970s, The Financial Times reports.
The 54-year-old’s departure had been rumoured for several months, with the BBC hiring headhunters Egon Zehnder in January to identify the remit of the expanding director general role Thompson’s successor will occupy.
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Thompson has presided over a number of scandals, including the Sachsgate affair, as well as series of staff redundancies and budget cuts. He announced his departure in an email to staff at the corporation on Monday, following a meeting with BBC Trust chairman Lord Patten, The Independent reports.
He said: “This morning I told Lord Patten that I believe that an appropriate time for me to hand over to a successor and to step down as director general of the BBC would be the autumn of this year, once the Olympics and the rest of the amazing summer of 2012 are over.”
Thompson added that he wants his successor to “have time to really get their feet under the table” before a review of the BBC’s charter – which sets out what the corporation does and how it should be managed and funded – takes place before the end of 2016.
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His departure could see the appointment of the BBC’s first female director general, with media pundits tipping the broadcaster’s chief operating officer, Caroline Thomas, and its head of news, Helen Boaden, as leading internal candidates, according to The Guardian.
Thompson took up the role in May 2004 from Greg Dyke, who quit following criticism of the corporation in a report on the death of government weapons inspector Dr David Kelly, according to the BBC.
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