Birt’s lordship may quicken exit

Second director general in BBC history to be elevated

LONDON — Departing BBC director general John Birt is being tipped for a peerage, which would hasten his exit from the pubcaster.

According to the Times newspaper, Birt will be ennobled in the government’s Millennium Honors List, becoming only the second director general in the BBC’s history to be elevated to the House of Lords. (The first was John Reith, the BBC’s initial director general.)

With Birt expected to join the Labour Party in the House of Lords, this would force him to step down immediately from the BBC, instead of fulfilling his contract until March 31.

This would resolve the awkward problem of a protracted handover from Birt to incoming director general Greg Dyke. Dyke is due to arrive at the BBC in November as director general-in-waiting, but will not take the reins until April 1, when Birt is scheduled to leave — a recipe for political and organizational chaos that the government is anxious to avoid.