BBC chief to leave this autumn

Thompson will go following Olympics

LONDON — Mark Thompson, the BBC’s director-general for the past eight years, will quit this fall.

His announcement follows January’s revelation that BBC Trust chairman Chris Patten had hired head hunters to draw up a list of potential successors for the director-general.

In a statement to staff Monday, Thompson confirmed the widely held belief that he would stand down “once the Olympics and the rest of the amazing summer of 2012 are over.”

The Olympics are a flagship event for the BBC.

Patten said, “Mark Thompson has been an outstanding director-general of the BBC.

“He took over during a traumatic period in the corporation’s history and subsequently enhanced its reputation for creativity and quality, while setting the course for the BBC’s digital future.

“I will miss him on both a personal and professional level, and I wish him the very best of luck for the future. The Trust will shortly begin the process of recruiting a successor.”

Speculation over who will follow Thompson in one of the most powerful jobs in U.K. media will now intensify.

Leading internal candidates include news topper Helen Boaden and head of vision George Entwistle.

Outside the BBC, among those considered likely to put their hat into the ring are media regulator Ofcom’s CEO Ed Richards and Michael Jackson, the ex-BBC director of TV and ex-Channel 4 CEO who works in the U.S. as senior advisor for website provider IAC and sits on the board of shingle Nutopia.

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