A BBC source tells me that James Harding is the BBC’s new Director of News. There is no official confirmation yet, but it makes sense. Just a few months ago, he quit as editor of The Times – with the praise of Fleet St ringing in his ears and a £1.3 million payout in his pocket. The Guardian had reported that he had been approached to be deputy to Tony Hall, the new BBC director-general. (The no2 job has not been filled since Mark Byford quit a couple of years ago.) But DDG, for all its nominal seniority, would not have been as powerful position as Director of News (vacated by Helen Boaden, who was paid £354,000 a year). When Lord Hall arrived, the two main vacancies he had to fill were that of Director of News and Director of Television. He has lost very little time on the former, but there’s still no word on the latter.
If Harding’s appointment is confirmed, I’m sure CoffeeHousers will agree it is a golden opportunity to ensure fairness and balance in the nation’s most powerful media organisation.
7.15pm UPDATE Media Guardian (second with the news, guys!) says Harding’s appointment is expected to be confirmed tomorrow. I’m sure they’ll have something on their website soon. 8pm Update: here it is.
Tuesday update: BBC has caught up with our story, but hasn’t found a better picture of him (can’t get the staff…) He’ll be on £340k, a fair whack – but I suspect less than half of his old salary. Lord Hall said:
” I believe he will give BBC News a renewed sense of purpose as it moves away from what has been an undeniably difficult chapter. As an organisation, the BBC will also benefit from his external perspective and experience which he will share as a member of the BBC’s executive team.”
No reaction from Rupert Murdoch. My fantasy text: “Congratulations, Agent Harding, I see our plan is going well…”