LONDON — The BBC has appointed Peter Salmon to be its first director of sport, after a three-year stint as controller of BBC1.
Salmon’s future with the pubcaster was unclear a few weeks ago, with his departure as controller widely predicted because of the disappointing number of hit programs during his tenure.
The BBC1 schedule had received particular criticism in the governors’ annual report earlier this year, in spite of some successes, including “Walking With Dinosaurs.”
Heading new division
Salmon will head the newly integrated sport division, created in April as part of the Beeb’s restructuring under director general Greg Dyke.
The post places him on the new BBC executive committee alongside the other directors. This is the first time sport has been represented at the corporation’s top decision-making level.
Salmon will be a key player in the ever more intense struggle between the Beeb and commercial channels to win sports broadcasting rights.
As controller he helped win the F.A. Cup soccer competition back from ITV, but the Beeb has recently been the biggest loser, with Premier League soccer highlights and presenter Desmond Lynam going to ITV, and cricket to Channel 4.
Before 1997, Salmon was director of programs at Granada TV, where he was responsible for more than a third of the ITV schedule. Prior to that he was controller of factual programs at Channel 4, and head of features at BBC Bristol.
Salmon’s successor as BBC1 controller has not yet been announced, but is widely tipped to be Lorraine Heggessey, currently joint director of factual and learning.