James Harding has been appointed director, BBC News and Current Affairs. Harding was previously editor of The Times, a role he resigned from late last year.
Harding will replace Helen Boaden who became director of BBC Radio yesterday. In his new role, he will be paid a total package of £340,000 and sit on the BBC’s Executive and Management Boards. Responsible for the BBC’s News and Current Affairs programming, Harding will attempt to bring a sense of normality back to a department that has recently been dealing with the Savile scandal, Newsnight incidents and official reviews.
In his resignation speech to The Times’ staff, Harding stated it was made clear to him that News Corporation wanted to appoint a new editor. It followed a rather successful year in which his work was officially recognised at The Press Awards for 2012. Though he didn’t accept any of them (they were collected by The Times’ new editor John Witherow who recognised Harding as the rightful winner in his acceptance speech), Harding can feel responsible for The Times’ Newspaper of the Year and News Team of the Year awards.
When he takes up the new role in August, Harding will be head of a division that employs 8,000 staff and includes the flagship programmes Today, Newsnight, Question Time and Panorama. BBC News is also responsible for daily bulletins across TV and radio, regional news, the BBC News website, news channels and BBC Radio 5 live.
The appointment was seen as one of the first challenges for new director-general Tony Hall.