LONDON — Greg Dyke, the BBC’s incoming director-general, has sold his £6 million stake (U.S. $9.6 million) in Granada Group following several days of media pressure.
Dyke, who had previously committed to sell his shares in rival media companies by April, said the BBC had not forced him to sell early.
“I have done this because I do not want my early days as director-general of the BBC to be dominated by questions and controversy about my shareholdings at a time when there are so many other things to do and so many other ideas I want to discuss with the staff at the BBC,” he said in a statement.
The Jan. 16 issue of the Sunday Times splashed the “revelation” that Dyke had not yet disposed of his shares in Granada, a leading player in the ITV web, even though he had already been at the BBC as deputy DG for three months, and takes over as DG on Feb. 1.
That story was picked up widely by other newspapers, and pursued with particular enthusiasm by the Times, the News Corp. stablemate of the Sunday Times.
The BBC said it was fully aware of Dyke’s various media shareholdings when he was appointed last summer, and had given him until April to dispose of them all.
He was originally to become DG in April, but that date was brought forward to February after the elevation of the outgoing DG John Birt to the House of Lords.
Dyke became a multimillionaire when the ITV station LWT, of which he was chief exec, fell to a hostile bid from Granada. His chairman at LWT, Christopher Bland, is now chairman of the BBC.
Last year, Dyke sold his other media holdings, including shares in Carlton Communications and Manchester United. He reportedly held onto the Granada shares because of a recent underperformance in the stock price.
In his statement Thursday, Dyke denied having behaved unethically. “I have scrupulously followed the terms of the agreement I reached with the BBC when I was appointed last June,” he said.