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HindustanTimes Tue,29 Jul 2014

World

Scandal-hit BBC appoints ex-Times editor as news chief
Reuters
London, April 16, 2013
First Published: 18:54 IST(16/4/2013)
Last Updated: 18:56 IST(16/4/2013)

The BBC named former Times editor James Harding, who was forced to apologise to a media ethics inquiry last year, as its head of news on Tuesday at a time when the publicly-funded broadcaster tackles one of the biggest crises in its 90-year history.

Among Harding's tasks will be to restore trust in the globally respected British Broadcasting Corporation, hit by a series of scandals involving the late presenter Jimmy Savile who was discovered to have been a serial sex offender.

The announcement of his appointment coincides with fresh controversy surrounding accusations that its flagship news programme Panorama had used British students as "human shields" while it secretly filmed in North Korea.

Tony Hall, the BBC's director general who took the helm two weeks ago, acknowledged the news operation had been through an "undeniably difficult chapter", but added he expected the BBC to benefit from Harding's "external perspective".

Harding, 43, said he was honoured to be a part of the BBC.

"The BBC's newsroom strives to be the best in the world, trusted for its accuracy, respected for its fairness and admired for the courage of its reporting," he added in a statement.

At 38, Harding became the youngest editor in The Times' history in 2007 having previously worked at the Financial Times.

He stepped down in 2012 in a move he indicated had been forced on him by publishers News International.

While the phone-hacking scandal centred on the now defunct News of the World tabloid, it spilled over into stable mate The Times after one of its reporters hacked into emails of an anonymous police blogger in 2009 to expose his identity.

Harding was generally popular among Times staff during his tenure, but he endured an uncomfortable appearance before the high-profile inquiry into media ethics after the judge that led it called him back and he apologised to the detective.

Hall's predecessor resigned last year after the BBC was plunged into turmoil when a programme about sex abuse by Savile was not shown.

Another programme which was aired led to false accusations against a politician and prompted questions about ethics and management at the organisation which employs some 22,000 people.

As director of BBC News and Current Affairs, Harding replaces Helen Boaden, who stepped aside in November pending a review of why editors shelved the Savile programme.

Harding will be paid a total package of £340,000.


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