Channel 4 chief rules out top BBC job

Channel 4 Chief Executive, Mark Thompson, the front runner to become the BBC’s next director-general, has quashed rumours that he will take the job, claiming that he would turn down any approach by the corporation.

Mr Thompson, a former BBC director of television, had been the favourite to succeed Greg Dyke, but he told reporters that he had the job he wanted as chief executive of Channel 4.

The 46-year-old broadcaster had previously announced that he would not “apply” for the post, but this was seen as a tactical statement, designed to reassure Channel 4 and the new chairman, Luke Johnson, while at the same time leaving BBC chairman, Michael Grade, the option of approaching him.

Channel 4 insiders have also confirmed that Mr Thompson has not signed a new contract that would tie him to Channel 4 for longer than his current one-year rolling contract. Many industry insiders also believe that, in spite of his denials, Thompson would not reject the BBC job if it were offered to him.

Other contenders for the director general’s job include the BBC’s head of television, Jana Bennett, the head of radio, Jenny Abramsky and John Willis, the head of factual programming. Peter Salmon, the BBC head of sport, has the support of Greg Dyke, while the acting Director-General, Mark Byford, has also expressed his interest. He applied for the job when the BBC appointed headhunters to start the process of finding a new director-general rolling ahead of the appointment of a new chairman.

Michael Jackson, the former chief executive of Channel 4 and ex-controller of BBC1 and BBC2 has also been tipped to apply for the post.

However, that process has since been frozen by Mr Grade and will not be restarted until he arrives at the corporation on May 17.

Bookmakers, Ladbrokes have installed Mark Byford as the new 3/1 favourite to take the director-general post, but have kept Mark Thompson in second place on 7/2.


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