Tony Hall is used to dealing with divas — literally. For a dozen years, he ran the Royal Opera House, a cherished but struggling institution plagued by in-fighting and financial ineptitude. Hall re-established the venue as an ambitious, vital force on London’s cultural scene.The experience proved a valuable rehearsal for the even tougher post he occupies now. As director-general of the British Broadcasting Corp., Hall sits atop a public broadcaster many call the envy of the world, one with global...
Tony Hall assumed the top job at the BBC in 2013, when the public broadcaster’s credibility lay in tatters. His predecessor had lasted just 54 days on the job amid a spiraling sex-abuse scandal involving a former BBC presenter. Using all his diplomatic skills, Hall assuaged the anger of politicians and license-fee payers and restored public trust in “the Beeb,” one of Britain’s most beloved institutions.
The experience was a prelude to a battle with the government over the BBC’s future. With its terms of operation up for renewal, Hall managed to secure a deal to keep the BBC funded over the next decade primarily through viewer license fees, worth $4.6 billion in 2015-16. It was a major victory for the BBC over lawmakers and competitors who had hoped to see the pubcaster hobbled.
Financial challenges remain, and layoffs loom. But Hall is pouring money into content and presiding over the biggest expansion of the BBC’s famed World Service in more than half a century. Hit shows such as “Sherlock” and “Doctor Who” bring in worldwide revenue, and the BBC’s iPlayer streaming and VOD service is extremely popular.
Hall started at the BBC in 1973 as a news trainee and worked his way up to head of BBC News. He left in 2001 to run London’s Royal Opera House and is credited with turning that institution’s reputation and finances around before his return to the BBC.
Hall was educated at Oxford University. In 2010, he was made a peer by Queen Elizabeth II; as Lord Hall of Birkenhead, he holds a seat in Britain’s House of Lords.