EDITORIAL: Departure of Dyke relieves BBC rivals

Given the savaging the BBC has received from Lord Hutton in his report into the events leading to the death of Dr David Kelly, it seems inevitable that the Corporation will be required to change the way it operates.

With Charter renewal looming, it is unlikely that the resignation of the BBC's director-general, Greg Dyke, and its chairman, Gavyn Davies, will be enough to silence its critics. In particular, Hutton's criticism of the way the board of governors failed to investigate the actions of the journalist Andrew Gilligan brings its role as the BBC's regulator into question. Surely, it's a matter of time before the Corporation comes under the jurisdiction of Ofcom.

With Dyke's departure, the BBC's rivals can be forgiven for breathing a sigh of relief. Here, after all, was a man whose background in commercial TV - at TV-am and later at LWT - became all too obvious with the launch of a plethora of digital channels.The net contribution of the patently commercial BBC3, CBeebies and CBBC to the broadcasting ecology is debatable, but there is a compelling case that, in the race to expand into areas where its presence was not really required, Dyke's BBC took its eye off the editorial ball. Arguably, this resulted in the sloppy journalism that eventually led to his downfall.

Dyke was a charismatic and competitive leader for the BBC, although Hutton's report has ensured that the prefix "the man who saved TV-am by introducing Roland Rat" will now surely be discarded in favour of something rather less flattering. Dyke was indeed fortunate that his tenure at the BBC coincided with a slump in ad revenue that hindered his rivals. His income through the tax of the licence fee was assured while his free-to-air rivals had to rein in their ambitions hence its expansion.

However, with the BBC's need to rebuild public trust and credibility paramount, it is likely that the new director-general will take a more cautious and non-commercial approach than his predecessor.


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