The BBC’s acting chair Dame Elan Closs Stephens says it needs to “re-establish the confidence and the ambition” in its output following the row over former chair Richard Sharp.
Sharp announced his attention to stand down as the broadcaster’s chair in April following a report into his appointment and involvement in securing a loan for ex-prime minister Boris Johnson.
On her first day as acting chair, Closs Stephens spoke to the BBC’s Tina Daheley about the way forward for the broadcaster.
Asked how she felt about stepping into the role of acting chair, Closs Stephens said her first thought is that “there’s a lot to be done”.
“I’m really confident that we are very good as an organisation at rising to challenges, reinventing ourselves and seeing things through,” she added. “I’ve got every confidence in us as an organisation, but it will require energy and pace and I hope to bring that, not just personally but as a board.”
Asked about the damage to the BBC’s reputation caused by the Sharp row, Closs Stephens said the BBC has “gone through a difficult time”, adding that staff, the BBC’s board and Sharp himself “were unnerved by what happened over the past few months”.
“All of us feel a debt of gratitude to Richard for the way in which he committed himself to the organisation during his two years,” she continued. “But the organisation as a whole is about the creativity and the news values and the production values of all the people who work in it.
Closs Stephens said that most people measure the BBC by its output, and so it needs to “re-establish the confidence and the ambition in that output”.
“I am absolutely confident that this is an organisation which is capable of transforming itself into another modern period of time. And I’m confident that the board and the executive jointly as a unitary board, will be leading the way,” she continued. “But I’m also confident that it as a whole, as a body of staff, we have the most amazing people and we have to just make certain that we are developing everybody’s expertise as much as we possibly can.”
“It’s not a time for standing still,” stated Closs Stephens. “Although the period in which I’m going to be chair is quite short, we need to get on with the job.”