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Last Updated: Tuesday, 28 November 2006, 08:37 GMT
Michael Grade: Why I left the BBC
The news that BBC chairman Michael Grade would leave the BBC to run commercial rival ITV came as a huge surprise. In a letter to staff, Mr Grade outlined the reasons for his departure.

Dear friends and colleagues,

A short while ago, an announcement was made to the Stock Exchange about my appointment to ITV.

It contains some bare facts which disguise what has been a huge personal decision for me, namely to leave the BBC.

Firstly, I would like everyone to understand this is a career decision. What it is NOT is a reaction to anything, internal or external.

I was faced with the choice of getting back into programming or 'governing' the BBC from a distance.

Those of you who know me will understand just what an effort of will it has taken for me, as Chairman of the Governors, not to look at the overnight ratings every day, not to engage in idle programming chit chat with the brilliant creatives who are currently taking BBC television, radio and on line to new heights of quality - and so on.

Looking back over the past two and a half years, I can say I have never felt so privileged, never felt such a responsibility, and never felt so proud.

Being the Chairman of the BBC was the most unexpected job I have ever had. The welcome you gave me on my arrival is embedded deep within my emotional dna. At that moment I realised what was at stake for me, for the BBC.

So much has been accomplished in the last two and a half years that I feel comfortable that I have achieved what I set out to achieve - namely restore the equilibrium of the this great institution, to lead the process to appoint a new DG [director general], to secure a new ten year Charter and to reform the governance of the Corporation.

With the help of my fellow governors and the new Governance Unit, the future is secure, the independence of the BBC is safeguarded and, most important of all, our programmes across all media are maintaining the overwhelming support of the licence fee payers.

ITV is a competitor to the BBC, yes. BUT the BBC does need ITV to be strong, both for competitive reasons and to maintain the balance of power within British public service broadcasting.

So I leave with the feeling that I have done the best I can to secure the future of the institution about which I will always care so deeply, I leave with some sadness because of all the friends old and new who have been my support over the past two and a half years.

What I won't miss is the BBC sandwiches at meetings. They have taken re-cycling to new heights. But I digress ...

In a speech I made when I was CEO at Channel 4 I included the words: "It's the BBC that keeps the rest of the industry honest." That is as true today as it ever was. I am off to a new challenge, maybe at 63 my last real job, and hopefully give you a run for your money. That's how it should be. Look after Auntie, I am sure you won't need me again. And thank you for having me.

Yours ever,

Michael Grade

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