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New chief starts job of repairing BBC's reputation

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

New BBC director-general Tony Hall took up his post on Tuesday, starting the task of restoring the reputation of the world's biggest broadcaster that has been rocked by a child sex abuse scandal.

Hall arrived to tackle a bulging in-tray topped with the fallout from police investigations which concluded that the corporation's late presenter Jimmy Savile was one of Britain's most prolific sex offenders.

The British Broadcasting Corporation was subsequently damaged by a botched television report wrongly indicating that a lawmaker was a paedophile, sparking a shake-up in the BBC's top posts.

Engulfed by the scandals, Hall's predecessor George Entwistle resigned as director-general in November after just 54 days in the job.

Hall, 62, a former head of BBC news, returns to the corporation after more than a decade as chief executive of the Royal Opera House.

In an internal email to staff, Hall said the corporation was "learning the lessons" from recent "difficult times".

"We are now winning back trust, something which will always be the most precious commodity for our organisation," he said.

"The BBC sets incredibly high standards. At our best we provide a service like no other.

"Our challenge is to perform at our best all of the time."

Besides the Savile fallout, Hall must find a new permanent director of television and a director of news, and resolve disputes over jobs and budget cuts.

BBC services including World Service radio were disrupted on Thursday as journalists held their second strike in as many months over job cuts.

The corporation plans to cut 2,000 jobs over five years as it slashes its budget by 20 percent.

Meanwhile two reports are coming up stemming from the Savile scandal.

Former Court of Appeal judge Janet Smith is conducting an internal investigation into the "culture and practices of the BBC" during the years that Savile worked for the corporation. Her report is due later this year.

Meanwhile lawyer Dinah Rose is conducting an inquiry into BBC policies on sexual harassment and bullying, which is expected at the end of the month.

Hall was the only person approached for the post by the corporation's governing body, the BBC Trust. His salary is £450,000 ($685,000, 530,000 euros) per year.

"It's exciting for me to be coming back to where I started my career," Hall said as he arrived at the BBC's Broadcasting House headquarters in central London.

"It's an enormous responsibility being the 16th director-general of the BBC, but it's also something I am very excited about.

"What we produce here is extraordinary and distinctive and very, very wonderful.

"I'm very, very proud indeed to be leading the BBC from this moment on."

Hall said he would set out his plans in the coming weeks to take the BBC towards its centenary in 2022.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130402/new-chief-starts-job-repairing-bbcs-reputation