Tony Hall’s decision to step down as BBC director general could pave the way for the corporation to appoint its first female to the top job. Here are five of the contenders:
As chief executive of Channel 4, Alex Mahon has experience of leading a public service broadcaster under pressure from the government.
Mahon, the first woman to run a UK broadcaster larger than Channel 5, is currently overseeing the relocation of Channel 4’s operation out of London. She has said Britain’s public service broadcasters play a vital role in the “national conversation” that Silicon Valley players have no interest in.
Charlotte Moore is the BBC director of content, responsible for a budget of more than £1bn. She has shown a willingness to stand up to the government in the past, defending the corporation’s “unashamedly popular” and distinctive television, and warning over future erosion of its independence.
She has also taken a swipe at the BBC’s modern-day rivals, warning that Netflix and Amazon are motivated by profit rather than what is good for audiences.
Gail Rebuck is the chair of Penguin Random House UK. She has worked in publishing for more than four decades and was formerly a member of the government’s creative industries taskforce.
In 1998, she founded the World Book Day charity. Rebuck, who sits as a Labour peer in the House of Lords, has been linked with a top job at the BBC for decades.
Jay Hunt was once considered a likely contender to be the first female director general, having held a series of senior jobs including director of programmes at Channel 5, controller of BBC One, and chief creative officer of Channel 4 – where she poached the Great British Bake Off.
She had also been mentioned as a strong candidate to become chief executive of Channel 4 but missed out in 2017, with some claiming that her abrasive personality was a factor in the decision. Now overseeing European video at Apple, she may have moved into a different arena – but her experience in online content could make her an attractive candidate to the corporation.
Sharon White was the former chief executive of Ofcom from 2015 until June last year when she was appointed chair of John Lewis. White has a background in economics, and before Ofcom worked as second permanent secretary to the Treasury where she was in charge of public finances.
She has previously criticised the BBC for a lack of diversity and on leaving Ofcom said the broadcaster had “failed to come to terms” with external regulation.