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Last Updated: Tuesday, 1 May 2007, 11:09 GMT 12:09 UK
First day in job for BBC chairman
Sir Michael Lyons
Sir Michael Lyons has become the 20th chairman of the BBC
Sir Michael Lyons, a former council chief executive and market trader, has started his new role as BBC chairman, replacing Michael Grade.

He is taking over the BBC Trust, which replaced the board of governors.

After a newsroom tour with deputy director general Mark Byford, he took questions from the public on Radio Five Live and Radio 2.

Sir Michael said: "It's our job to make sure that those who pay for the BBC get the BBC they want."

Internet Protocol TV

Speaking on BBC Five Live's mid morning phone-in with Richard Bacon, Sir Michael was asked by listeners about banning the compulsory licence fee and what his thoughts were on "cleaning up the BBC" by clamping down on swearing.

He told callers that as it was his first day he would take their thoughts away and "learn a bit more" about the issues.

He has vowed the Trust will spend a "great deal of time listening to the public".

"We have to find ways to ensure that the full complexity and diversity of the UK is reflected in all our decisions.

"I believe I have the experience and enthusiasm from my earlier career in public service to make this happen," he added.

He is a former chief executive of three regional councils - Wolverhampton, Nottingham and Birmingham - and was knighted for his services to local government in 2000.

His broadcasting experience comes from being a former non-executive director of Central Television and chairman of ITV's Regional Advisory Council.

Former BBC chairman Michael Grade
Michael Grade left to become executive chairman of ITV

One of the first jobs he must face in his new post is to set budgets within a reduced licence fee settlement, a more challenging task since the BBC's bid for an above-inflation figure was turned down by the government.

"The public has growing expectations of the BBC. This is an exciting opportunity to begin the debate over how the licence fee should best be used to satisfy those demands," he said.

He will also have to consider the moving of some BBC departments to Manchester, and how the BBC will lead Britain's switch from analogue TV to digital.

The corporation is expected to help establish and fund a scheme to help the elderly, disabled and vulnerable switch to digital television .

The BBC Trust was introduced in the wake of the Hutton Report in 2004, which highlighted problems with the governors' dual role as both the corporation's champions and regulators.




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