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BBC seeks new boss as pressure for major reform grows

THE BBC Trust chairman, Christopher Patten, and his fellow trustees will meet today to plot the hunt for a new director-general as doubts mount about the future of the BBC's beleaguered regulatory body.

Mr Patten has said he wants to appoint a successor to George Entwistle within a "few weeks" and the vacancy is top of the agenda for the talks at the BBC Trust's Great Portland Street offices in London.

But Whitehall insiders said Downing Street's support for Mr Patten is waning, after the 'Newsnight' fiasco and the dispute over the £450,000 (€562,000) pay-off for Mr Entwistle, who served for only 54 days.

The Trust's meeting comes after a string of senior media figures said the BBC's existing regulatory structure – with a management board headed by the director-general and a separate chairman who headed the Trust – must be reformed.

Former ITV chief executive Charles Allen, now chairman of Capital Radio owner Global Radio, urged the BBC to "review the governance structure".

Mr Allen said: "The BBC Trust is the regulator and its chair is not chair of the BBC. What the BBC needs is a strong chairman who could move quickly to support the director-general until we knew what had gone wrong and then drive the changes required to put it right."

The former ITV boss also urged the BBC to appoint a woman as director-general.

"He or, ideally, she needs to create a new vision for the BBC that is not only about chasing ratings and aping commercial competitors," Mr Allen said.

There is speculation that the BBC could approach Marjorie Scardino, departing chief executive of 'Financial Times' owner Pearson, who will step down on January 1.

City heavyweight David Arculus, a non-executive director of Pearson and a former chairman of magazines group IPC, said: "The BBC is a great organisation let down by bad governance at board level. Let's have a proper unitary board (rather than separate trust and management boards) with a new chairman."

Mr Arculus suggested Fiona Reynolds, a BBC non-executive director and ex-National Trust boss, "would be ideal" as a replacement for Mr Patten. (© Independent News Service)

Irish Independent