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Last Updated: Thursday, 18 October 2007, 12:44 GMT 13:44 UK
Profile: Mark Thompson
Mark Thompson
Thompson became chief executive of Channel Four in 2001
BBC director general Mark Thompson has announced his plans for the corporation's future.

The six-year strategy, which includes 2,500 job cuts and the sale of BBC Television Centre, is the latest upheaval in Mr Thompson's tenure at the head of the organisation.

The 50-year-old has spent most of his professional career at the BBC, starting at the bottom of the broadcasting ladder as a production trainee in 1979.

After two years learning the ropes he became involved in launching the long-running consumer rights series Watchdog.

He went on to work on Breakfast Time and London Plus before being becoming output editor on Newsnight in 1985.

An Oxford graduate, he was appointed editor of the Nine O'clock News in 1988 before joining the Panorama team.

Factual shows

Rising through the ranks, Mr Thompson became head of features before being appointed head of factual programmes in 1994.

The father-of-three is credited with playing a key role in the strength of such factual shows as Animal Hospital, Modern Times and Ready, Steady, Cook.

Animal Hospital
Animal Hospital with Rolf Harris was a big success for the BBC
As controller of BBC Two between 1996 and 1998, he presided over a number of critically acclaimed series including The Cops, The Royle Family, Our Mutual Friend and The Fast Show.

Factual programming during that time was also strong with the likes of Storyville, Naked, Back to the Floor and Ground Force.

His next job saw him presiding over output across the whole of the UK as director of national and regional broadcasting.

A restructure by then director general Greg Dyke saw Mr Thompson become director of television in April 2000.

'Creative deficit'

But the following year he left the BBC to become chief executive of Channel 4.

He began his tenure by announcing the station would make up the "creative deficit" in British television.

However, his first year in the job was marred by Boys and Girls, a ratings flop produced in conjunction with former DJ Chris Evans.

Boys and Girls
Boys and Girls - hosted by Vernon Kay - was axed after poor ratings
He also oversaw extensive cost-cutting that resulted in 200 redundancies and the closure of the Film Four production company.

Other casualties included long-running soap Brookside and unsuccessful breakfast show RI:SE.

But before he left, he brought in Five's Kevin Lygo as head of programming and initiated successful new dramas such as Shameless and No Angels.

Licence fee

Returning to the BBC in June 2004, Thompson was seen as the man to steer the corporation onto firmer ground after the Hutton report led to the resignation of his predecessor, Greg Dyke.

On his first day, he restructured the corporation's management and appointed a new board to oversee journalism.

A week later, he launched a successful bid for the renewal of the BBC's charter - eventually securing the broadcaster's future until 2016.

He also achieved a certain degree of unwanted notoriety after it was revealed he had bitten a colleague on the arm during his time on the Nine O'clock news.

The BBC dismissed the incident as "horseplay". Mr Thompson later told the Independent: "I pretended to snap [my teeth] at him. Unbelievably, I connected with his arm."

BBC picket line
Previous rounds of job cuts have led to strikes

In May 2005, he announced plans to restructure the BBC - laying off several thousand employees in the process.

The director general, whose salary in 2006 was 788,000, said he wanted to create a "smaller and simpler" BBC in advance of his bid to secure an above-inflation increase in the licence fee.

Along with then-chairman Michael Grade, he argued that the cost of a TV licence should increase to 180 in order to fund the switch-over to digital TV and BBC on-demand services.

The government disagreed with the plan.

It allowed a small rise, reaching a maximum of 151.50 by 2012, leaving the BBC with a projected 2bn budget shortfall.

In order to cope, Mr Thompson has announced the second round of job cuts of his tenure as the head of the BBC.


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