12/11/2012 01:26 GMT | Updated 12/11/2012 12:18 GMT

BBC Director General Job: Who Could Replace George Entwistle?

The acting director general of the BBC will set out his plans for rebuilding trust in the corporation in the wake of the botched Newsnight child abuse investigation.

Tim Davie held his first meeting last night with the BBC Trust since being drafted in as a stand-in replacement for George Entwistle, who dramatically announced his resignation on Saturday.

It came as a row erupted over the disclosure that Entwistle - who served just 54 days in the post - was to receive a full year's salary of £450,000 in lieu of notice.

Under the terms of the his contract he was entitled to only six months' pay, but the trust said that the additional payment had been agreed as a reflection of his continuing involvement with the various BBC inquiries now under way.

The move was greeted with anger and disbelief by MPs. The chairman of the Commons Culture, Media and Sport Committee, John Whittingdale, said the trust had to explain how it could justify such a large pay-off.

"A lot of people will be very surprised that somebody who was in the job for such a short period of time and then had to leave in these circumstances should be walking away with £450,000 of licence fee payers' money," he said.

"Certainly I would want to know from the trust why they think that's appropriate. I find it very difficult to see a justification for that amount of money to be paid to somebody who has had to resign in these circumstances.

"I wouldn't have thought that just because you have to help an inquiry into the Savile allegations you necessarily need to be paid a such a large amount of money."

Harriet Harman MP, Labour's Shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, added: "It is not justifiable for the BBC to pay double the contractually required sum to the director general on his resignation. It looks like a reward for failure.

"George Entwistle should decline to accept any more than is required under his contract.

"This is not the way to restore public confidence in the BBC."

Lord Patten, the chairman of the BBC Trust, is also said to be under pressure to quit, but the Telegraph reported that Downing Street is backing Patten to stay in post.

Within the BBC, staff were braced for further bloodletting in the wake of Entwistle's departure.

Davie yesterday received a report which Entwistle had commissioned from BBC Scotland director Ken MacQuarrie into how Newsnight came to wrongly implicate former Tory Party treasurer Lord McAlpine in the north Wales children's home scandal of the 1970s and 1980s.

Before he quit, Entwistle warned that it could result in disciplinary action against staff and over the weekend MPs demanded that those directly involved in the broadcast were held to account.

The future of Newsnight also appeared to be in the balance, with the chairman of the BBC Trust Lord Patten warning that there would have to be some "tough managerial decisions".

A trust spokesman said Davie - formerly chief executive of BBC Worldwide - would be setting out his plans for dealing with the issues raised by the broadcast "as a first step in restoring public confidence" in the corporation.

For now Downing Street appears willing to give the BBC a chance to get its own house in order in the wake of the crisis triggered by the disclosures of the Jimmy Savile child abuse, with 10 sources saying ministers would not be "jumping in" to intervene.

Lord Patten, however, acknowledged that the corporation needed to "get a grip" and turn the situation around or his own position would be on the line.

"If I don't do that and if we don't restore the huge confidence and trust that people have in the BBC then I'm sure people will tell me to take my cards and clear off," he told Sky News's Murnaghan programme.

"I am not going to take my marching orders from Mr Murdoch's newspapers. I think there are big issues which need to be tackled involving the BBC and ... that's what I want to give my attention to."


  • Acting director-general Tim Davie
  • In his current role of director of BBC Audio & Music, with overall responsibility for BBC Radios 1, 2, 3, 4, and the BBC digital radio stations, he had to address prank calls made by Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross on Radio 2.

    In October he was appointed as the new chief executive of BBC Worldwide and was due to take over in December.

    Soon after beginning his post Mr Davie had to deal with the decision to shut 6 Music - a call which was later reversed, bringing more scrutiny.

    • Michael Jackson, former chief executive of Channel 4
    • He commissioned hits such as Da Ali G Show, Queer As Folk and So Graham Norton.

      He also launched the two successful channels, FilmFour and E4.

      Jackson was previously controller of both BBC1 and BBC2 at various times in the 1990s. His move to the States, where he became president and chief executive officer of the USA Entertainment Group, surprised the industry.

      • Caroline Thomson, 58, is the BBC's former chief operating officer

      She narrowly missed out to George Entwistle earlier this year and left the corporation at the end of September when her post was axed.

      A former BBC journalism trainee who went on to produce BBC Panorama, she became head of corporate affairs at Channel 4 before returning to the BBC as deputy director of the BBC World Service, becoming director of policy and legal and then chief operating officer in 2006.

      • Ed Richards, chief executive of Ofcom

      A former policy adviser to Tony Blair, Richards made the final four for the director-general role before Entwistle was appointed.

      Richards, who has also worked in consulting at London Economics Ltd and for former prime minister Gordon Brown, is a governor of The London School of Economics & Political Science, and a trustee of The Teaching Awards Trust.

      • Danny Cohen, controller of BBC1

      He is responsible for the overall direction of the channel and determines its editorial policy, priority, style and presentation based on analyses of target audience needs.

      From 2007 to 2010, Cohen was Controller of BBC3 and his commissions included Being Human, Blood Sweat And Takeaways, Our War, Junior Doctors, Him And Her and Russell Howard's Good News.

      Before that he was head of E4 and Channel 4 Factual Entertainment.

      Peter Fincham, 56, ITV's director of television

      He joined the commercial broadcaster in 2008 and the channel has seen a creative renaissance with the commissioning of popular programmes such as Downton Abbey and the Fred West drama Appropriate Adult which won a clutch of awards - with The Only Way Is Essex being one of the shows of its age.

      Fincham might be reluctant to return to the BBC where he was appointed controller of BBC1 in 2005.

      He was forced out two years later in a row over a misleadingly-edited trailer for a documentary about the Queen.

      "I worked hard to become a BBC insider," Fincham said later. "When Queengate kicked off I quite quickly realised I wasn't."