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Last Updated: Friday, 2 April, 2004, 16:15 GMT 17:15 UK
Charismatic Grade outlines vision
Michael Grade
Mr Grade called for "clarification" of the governors' role
BBC chairman Michael Grade has vowed to "start looking forward" and put the BBC's recent troubles behind it.

At an upbeat press conference, the new chairman said the BBC had been through "a battering" over the Hutton inquiry, and it was now time to move on.

To warm applause from BBC staff, he said: "My job is to tell everybody at the BBC it is going to be fine."

He also pledged to do "whatever is necessary" to attract the right candidate for the director general job.

I think we have probably had enough apologies
Michael Grade

Mr Grade seemed relaxed and at ease, displaying touches of the charisma for which he is noted.

When a female broadsheet journalist identified herself to ask a question, Grade replied: "How did you get my mobile number?"

Then, as a BBC staff member brought him a glass of water, he said: "Good career move - get his name."

Dozens of BBC staff looking in at the press conference at its west London offices clapped and cheered when he arrived.

During the conference he often directed his comments as much to the assembled staff as to the waiting media.

"I nearly had a Dickie Attenborough moment," said Mr Grade - an apparent reference to the director's famously moved responses to applause.

He said the BBC's editorial independence was "paramount" in maintaining the support of viewers and listeners.

"Without it, there is no point to the BBC," he said.

He refused to be drawn on his thoughts on the fall-out over Hutton, which led to former chairman Gavyn Davies and director general Greg Dyke's resignations.

Michael Grade
Mr Grade seemed at ease in the spotlight
"What is important is for the BBC to learn the lessons, and it's the duty of the governors to ensure that the executive has learned the lessons."

He refused to say whether he would have given an unreserved apology to the government over Hutton, but said: "I think we have probably had enough apologies."

In what seemed at times like a rallying call to the BBC's 27,000 staff, he said: "The morale of the staff of the BBC will, I hope, be lifted by the appointment of a chairman who believes passionately in the independence of the corporation..."

He said appointing Mr Dyke's successor would not be considered until after 17 May when he officially took up his post.

He will relinquish some of his other business interests, including lottery operator Camelot, and media groups SMG and the Television Corporation.

The BBC's Duncan Kennedy
"Improving relations with the government, post-Hutton will be a major task for the new chairman"



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