Friday, May 14, 1999 Published at 22:23 GMT 23:23 UK
An Introduction to the Director General candidate race
Who will get the most prestigious job in broadcasting?
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The contest for the most powerful job in British broadcasting reaches a critical stage next week, when a shortlist of at least seven candidates to become the BBC's new director-general go for interviews with members of the BBC's Board of Governors.
The BBC is keen to preserve strict confidentiality, and is saying nothing about who's on the shortlist for the £400,000-a-year post. But there are at least four outside candidates: Greg Dyke (chief executive of Pearson Television), David Elstein (chief executive of Channel 5), Richard Eyre (chief executive of ITV) and Andrew Neil (editor-in-chief of The Scotsman).
Insiders on the shortlist are thought to include Matthew Bannister (chief executive of BBC Production) and Tony Hall (chief executive of BBC News). Mark Byford (chief executive of the BBC World Service) and Alan Yentob (director of television) may also have been called for interview.
The BBC Governors role:
In recent weeks the rumour mill has also suggested that Patricia Hodgson (the BBC's director of policy and planning) and Rupert Gavin (chief executive of the BBC's commercial arm, BBC Worldwide) were in the running. But another prominent outsider, Howard Stringer (head of Sony's US interests), is no longer interested, nor is the chief executive of Channel 4, Michael Jackson - he publicly ruled himself out months ago and has not ruled himself back in, despite recent rumours to the contrary.
The successful candidate must be up to running a huge organisation, with 00,000 staff and an annual budget in excess of £2 billion. They have to show they can manage creative people, have the journalistic nous to act as the BBC's editor-in-chief and have the robustness and independence to stand up to government and political pressure.
And they must have clear ideas about the BBC's future - about how it should respond to ever-increasing competition, how far it should develop new digital TV and radio services (and its burgeoning online presence), how commercial it should be and how far it should compete for mass audiences as opposed to filling with minority interest programmes the gaps left by its commercial rivals.