Tuesday, October 10, 2017


Blue. Bolt. From. Until we know more about James Harding's next venture, and who's funding it, there'll be speculation as to why the Director of News selected by DG Lord Hall, and tipped by many as his logical successor, has abandoned the re-imagined BBC.

Harding has enjoyed being a starmaker at BBC - Victoria Derbyshire, Carrie Gracie, Kamal Ahmed, Amol Rajan, Sarah Sands and many others have reason to be grateful.

But he came from The Times with a reputation for creating high level posts rather than closing them. And there are noises of clashes with DDG Anne Bulford about the timely delivery of savings. James has been keeping a lowish profile in recent months - certainly lower than when he was seeking The Future Of News on America's West Coast.

Harding himself has acknowledged there will be a newsroom book on his replacement; DG Tone has promised to sort it by Christmas..

Ideally, Tone would like to grab Lionel Barber from the FT but Lionel may require a grander, re-imagined title. Emily Bell, ex-Guardian-now-US-academic could be of interest. Other Brits in America who could be canvassed include James Goldston at ABC and Deborah Turness at NBC. Jonathan Munro, formerly No 2 at ITN, now head of Newsgathering at the BBC, would expect to be the lead internal candidate.

Kevin Bakhurst, former BBC News channel boss, may regret being antsy with Auntie from his new perch at Ofcom.

James Purnell, meanwhile, will be very happy.

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