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BBC Names Entwistle as Director General to Succeed Thomson

The British Broadcasting Corp., the world’s oldest public broadcaster, named George Entwistle as its new director general to succeed Mark Thompson.

Entwistle, who currently oversees all the broadcaster’s television channels, will have a salary of 450,000 pounds ($704,000) a year, 33 percent less than Thomson, the BBC Trust said in a statement today. Thomson said in March he will step down this autumn following coverage of the London Olympics and after eight years at the helm. He was the BBC’s longest-serving director general since the 1970s.

The commercial-free network, which is funded by fees from U.K. television viewers, has cut jobs and moved some offices and production outside London in recent years after its funding was frozen. The BBC has undergone spending cuts of more than 1 billion pounds since 2008.

Entwistle, who joined the BBC in 1989 as a broadcast journalism trainee, knows how the broadcaster can “harness the creativity and commitment of its staff to continue to serve audiences in ever more innovative ways,” BBC Trust Chairman Chris Patten said. The trust sets BBC strategy and budgets.

Patten said in September that the radio and TV broadcaster may have to eliminate some foreign news bureaus. The company last year agreed in July to share its right to broadcast the Formula One auto-racing series with British Sky Broadcasting Group Plc

Thompson, who’s held the role of director general since 2004, leaves ahead of a review of the BBC’s charter that addresses how the network should be funded and managed. Thompson was previously head of Channel 4 television.

Other contenders for the BBC’s top job included Ed Richards, the chief at U.K. media regulator Ofcom who announced his intention to seek the BBC post in May.

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