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BBC Taps Anne Bulford as Deputy Director General

LONDON — The BBC has tapped finance chief Anne Bulford as deputy director general, making her the first female to be hired for the role.

The move comes after a lengthy process of restructuring the senior leadership team at the Beeb, which will see the corporation’s top executive team reduced by nearly a third. Director general Tony Hall said in a statement that the changes were “about creating a simpler BBC with fewer layers and clear lines of accountability.”

Bulford, who currently has the title of managing director, finance and operations, will be the first deputy general at the company since the departure of Mark Byford in 2011. It also puts in her in line as a potential replacement for current director general Tony Hall when he chooses to leave.

In addition to continuing to lead finance, operations, HR, legal, design and engineering, Bulford will take on the additional responsibilities related to the BBC’s marketing and audience teams. She will create a new centralized commercial and rights group and will be in charge of the distribution of content.

“Anne will look at what more can be done to ensure the BBC spends as much money as possible on content,” Hall said.

The restructure of the executive team will also see the revival of the role director of nations and regions, yet to be named, meaning that directors for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland — Ken MacQuarrie, Rhodri Talfan Davies and Peter Johnston — will no longer be part of the exec team.

The BBC said the role will “bring together and enhance the BBC’s offer to the nations and regions of the UK to improve our content while also looking for savings so that more money can be released for content.”

The senior management restructure comes following the U.K. government’s White Paper on reforms for the pubcaster, which was released in May. In the charter it said that reform for the BBC was “vital” in terms of BBC governance and it placed a strong requirement on the corporation to provide more “distinctive” content and services and focus on underserved audiences, particularly those from ethnic minority backgrounds.

Piers Wenger was recently poached from Channel 4 to take over as drama chief at the Beeb. Charlotte Moore will become director of content and remain controller of BBC One. She will be responsible for all of the TV channels and iPlayer as well as take an oversight of BBC Sport. James Purnell will become director of strategy and education while Helen Boaden will continue to lead the BBC’s Radio output.

James Harding will continue as director of news and current affairs while Tim Davie’s role as director of worldwide and Mark Linsey’s role as director of studios also remain unchanged.

The BBC also confirmed that the exec position representing BBC North will close. The role had been held by Peter Salmon who left in March. Alice Webb, the director of BBC children’s will lead the region on a day-to-day basis.

Overall, the BBC said that the exec team would be cut from 16 to 11 members.

“Now, as we move towards this new charter period, I want us to turn our energy to focus on the future of public service broadcasting and what it means for our audiences,” said Hall. “We must continue to harness the creative power of the U.K. We must continue to be a creative beacon to the world and we will do this best by renewing the way we engage with our audiences as we enter our centenary year.

“The leadership changes I am making today can help ensure that the BBC is best equipped to do this. We must never stand still. We must always be looking to innovate and change. The new executive will lead this process of creative renewal to ensure the BBC remains the most creative force in the world.”

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